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Analysts: Lebanon Bracing for More Deadly Conflict With Israel

 

Men check the site of an Israeli air strike in the southern Lebanese village of Jibshit on Feb. 27, 2024.

Men check the site of an Israeli air strike in the southern Lebanese village of Jibshit on Feb. 27, 2024.

Lebanon is bracing for more deadly conflict, analysts say, as Israel launches its deepest airstrikes inside the country in years.

Israel’s airstrike Monday on Baalbek, in the Beka’a Valley deep inside Lebanon, is the most significant, they say, since the one that killed top Hamas official Saleh Al-Arouri in the capital, Beirut, in early January.

The Iran-backed Lebanese militant group Hezbollah said it shot down an Israeli drone over Baalbek, a Hezbollah stronghold where it has an air defense unit. It then fired a missile that was intercepted by Israel, landing near a synagogue close to Nazareth in northern Israel without causing injury or damage.

Later, an Israeli fighter jet carried out the targeted killing of Hassan Salami, a senior Hezbollah officer in southern Lebanon, alleging he was responsible for carrying out rocket attacks on northern Israel.

Analyst Dania Koleilat Khatib told VOA that “neither side wants to show that they are backing down, because they will lose their credibility.”

Khatib, who is president of the Research Center for Cooperation and Peace Building in Beirut, said, “You have this increasing tit-for-tat. If Hezbollah doesn’t show their ‘resistance,’ they’re politically finished. If they put up a fight, they might incur losses like in 2006 [with Israel], but they will renew their legitimacy past a few years. They rebuilt their capability, and now, supposedly, they have 150,000 precision-guided missiles.”

Lebanese analyst Patricia Karam, a nonresident fellow at the Washington-based Arab Center, said that war is “looming between Lebanon and Israel.”

Claire's Observations:  Lebanon is certainly in the cross-hairs; Israel desperately wants, and needs water from the Litani River, which is just 5 kilometers beyond the current Israeli border.  One has to wonder how much territory Israel is ready to steal here, if Hezbollah is incapable of fighting them of to retain territorial Lebanese integrity?!?