With the war between Hamas and Israel now 25 days old and clashes escalating since last weekend as the Israeli army moved into the second phase of the war by intensifying operations inside the Gaza Strip, concerns are growing that tensions could spill over into the Gaza Strip. surrounding area.
A key fear is Iran’s role as it supports and finances both Palestinian armed groups operating in Gaza, Lebanon’s Shiite Islamist group Hezbollah, Yemen’s Houthi rebels, and extremist organizations in Syria and Iraq. All of these armed groups have carried out attacks against Israel during the conflict, which Israel considers to be carried out at the behest of Iran.
The most active group so far is Hezbollah as it engages in daily firefights with the Israeli military, although they are largely subdued, mostly targeting isolated areas near the border with Israel.
An exception was the surface-to-air missile it launched to shoot down an Israeli drone spotted in the southeast of the country. For some analysts, this takedown suggests that Hezbollah is also preparing for a new phase in its attacks, increasing its involvement in the war and “opening up” the scope of its targets.
At this point it is worth noting that according to a report by Amwaj.media, based in the United Kingdom, the head of the Quds Force, the Revolutionary Guards (an elite body of Iran’s army) has been in Lebanon since the beginning of the war, for coordination among allies.
However, security sources cited by Amwaj say that while the Quds Force coordinates Iran’s allies in the Middle East in a “common operations room”, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah has the authority to decide on attacks from Lebanon against Israel .
In the same vein is the assessment of Trita Parsi, executive president of the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft. As he notes, although Iranian officials speak openly against Israeli attacks on Gaza, Iran is not willing to engage in war.
But he sees a worrying development. “I fear that Hezbollah, and through it, Iran, may feel compelled to intervene,” he explained to Al Jazeera.
Notably, Hamas has requested more support from Hezbollah and more activity along Lebanon’s southern border with Israel. The longer this front, on the Lebanese-Israeli border, flares up, the more difficult it will be for the Israelis – at least from the perspective of Hamas and Hezbollah – to fight on two fronts.
“This will not be done to save Hamas, but to save themselves. If Israel succeeds in eliminating Hamas, it will change the balance in the region and Hezbollah will fear that Israel and the US may expand the war to Lebanon and Iran.”
“This fear may force Hezbollah to intervene to prevent Israel from achieving its objectives in Gaza, in order to prevent Israel from later advancing into Lebanon.”
Once Hezbollah is “seriously” involved in the war, there will be “a lot of pressure” on US President Joe Biden to raise the level of pressure on Iran in response, he also estimated.
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