June 28, 2024 | Flash Brief

War Between Israel and Hezbollah Drawing Closer, U.S. Says

June 28, 2024 | Flash Brief

War Between Israel and Hezbollah Drawing Closer, U.S. Says

Latest Developments

Escalating clashes on the Lebanese border could erupt into a full-scale war between Israel and Hezbollah in the coming weeks if Hamas and Israel fail to reach a cease-fire, Politico reported on June 27. Citing U.S. intelligence officials speaking on condition of anonymity, the report stated that the risk of war on the Lebanese front is “higher now than at any other point in recent weeks.” In support of its Hamas ally, Hezbollah has launched missile, drone, and rocket attacks on Israel in the wake of the October 7 terrorist attack.

The report emphasized that the U.S. reading of the worsening situation was “slightly more conservative” than the assessment “coming from parts of Europe” that a war could “happen in days.” Two of the senior U.S. officials interviewed “stressed that it was unclear when exactly the war could start but noted that Israel is trying to rebuild its stockpiles and troop capacity quickly,” Politico stated. The intelligence sources also assessed that “the catalyst for war — a major attack by either side, for example — is likely to happen with little notice.” Hezbollah has stepped up its attacks on Israel in recent weeks. According to a report released by the Alma Research and Education Center on June 2, the Iranian-backed terrorist organization launched 95 anti-tank missile attacks in May, compared to 50 attacks in April, along with 85 unmanned aerial vehicle infiltration incidents in May, up from 42 in April.

Expert Analysis

“The more public pressure the Biden administration puts on Israel and the more the White House declares it wants to avoid escalation, the more aggressive we should expect Tehran and Hezbollah to behave. If Biden seeks regional security and a better peace, give Israel the weapons it needs and save suggestions and criticisms for Israel for private meetings.” — Bradley Bowman, Senior Director of FDD’s Center on Military and Political Power

“Desperation for a ceasefire with Hamas, signaling fear of Hezbollah, and accommodating Iran are the key drivers of escalation on all fronts. The road to peace does not run through surrender to Hamas; rather, it runs through unconditional support for Israel and maximum pressure on Hamas, its terrorist allies, and state sponsors.” — Richard Goldberg, FDD Senior Advisor

“The war is inching closer, not only because of the increased lethality and frequency of Hezbollah’s attacks on northern Israel but also because of the failure of diplomatic proposals to create a sustainable environment enabling displaced citizens to return home. Israel might not want a war right now, but it could be its only option if Hezbollah continues its attacks and does not withdraw its forces from the border and north of the Litani River.” — Ahmad Sharawi, FDD Research Analyst

U.S. Seeks “Diplomatic Resolution” Between Israel and Hezbollah, Supports Israel

Following meetings with U.S. officials in Washington, DC, Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant reiterated on June 27 that Israel does “not want war, but we are preparing for every scenario. Hezbollah understands very well that we can inflict massive damage in Lebanon if a war is launched.” U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin met with Gallant on June 25 to discuss “efforts to de-escalate tensions along the Israel-Lebanon border” and “to stand together against Iranian and Iranian-supported attacks against Israel and destabilizing activities throughout the Middle East.” Austin also underscored America’s “ironclad” support for Israel, amid Hezbollah’s provocations.

The Biden administration is pursuing a “diplomatic solution” to deescalate the Israel-Lebanon border that would allow more than 60,000 residents of northern Israel and nearly 100,000 Lebanese citizens displaced by the escalating clashes to return to their homes. White House National Security Communications Advisor John Kirby emphasized on June 26, “we don’t want to see a second front opened up, period … so we’re working diplomatically to prevent that outcome from happening … and certainly, we’re going to continue to help Israel defend itself; that’s not going to change.” On June 27, the U.S. Department of State issued a travel advisory encouraging U.S. citizens to reconsider travel to Lebanon because “the security environment remains complex and can change quickly.”

Iran-backed Iraqi militia threatens to strike US interests should Israel attack Lebanon,” FDD Flash Brief

The grave consequences of the UN’s failure in Lebanon,” by Bradley Bowman and Cameron McMillan

Israel Rebuffs French Role in Lebanon,” FDD Flash Brief

Hezbollah Maintains Rocket Barrage From Lebanon as IDF Dismantles Hamas Terror Sites in Gaza,” FDD Flash Brief

Issues:

Issues:

Hezbollah Iran-backed Terrorism Israel Israel at War Lebanon Military and Political Power

Topics:

Topics:

Europe Gaza City Hamas Hezbollah Iran Iraq Israel Israel Defense Forces Joe Biden John Kirby Lebanon Litani River Lloyd Austin Politico Tehran U.S. Department of State United Nations White House Yoav Gallant