A looming Israel-Hezbollah war

THE CORNER ORACLE - Andrew J. Masigan - The Philippine Star

Hezbollah, a terrorist group based in Lebanon but funded by the Iranian government, dipped its finger in the Israel-Hamas war, a war it is not a part of. As a result, a full-scale war looms between Israel and Hezbollah. This looming war can potentially cause widespread destabilization in the Gulf.

Following Hamas’ attacks on Israeli civilians last Oct. 7, Hezbollah waged parallel attacks on Israel in solidarity with Hamas. A total of 2,133 Hezbollah attacks have been recorded, 841 of which targeted civilian areas. Hezbollah shares the ideals of radical Islamists who seek the obliteration of the Jewish race.

Hezbollah has built 32 frontline compounds in its stronghold in Southern Lebanon, a stone’s throw away from Israel’s northern border. These compounds serve as Hezbollah’s weapons silo and stations for attack.

Hezbollah boast armaments far superior to those of Hamas, the majority of which were provided by its benefactor and enabler, Iran. At its disposal are artilleries of rockets, anti-ship missiles, anti-tank missiles, surface-to-air missiles and scud missiles whose range spans 10 to 400+ kilometers. Hezbollah has the capability to attack the major cities of Israel, from Haifa in the north to Eilat in the south and Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and Galilee in between.

It must be noted that Hezbollah is not a state actor. They are a terrorist group and as such, do not play by the rules of war as established by the Geneva Convention. This makes them barbaric in battle, given the absence of accountability.

Hezbollah has become more aggressive since Israel assassinated its high-ranking commander, Taleb Sami Abdullah. Recently, its drones have penetrated Israeli airspace for which it released photos of its target, the Port of Haifa. Israel has taken this as a direct threat.

Hezbollah’s genocidal intentions leave the Israelis no choice but to go on an offensive to defend its land and people. It has since responded by invading thousands of hectares of farmland in Southern Lebanon to establish a buffer zone. This buffer zone is a five-kilometer strip located north of the blue line (a UN drawn border between the two sides). Hezbollah is resisting Israel’s presence, thus making the area a de facto military zone.

Diplomatic channels are at a stalemate. Israel is demanding that Hezbollah back off from its northern border but the Iranian proxy says it will neither back off nor scale down its attacks until Israel agrees to a ceasefire in Gaza. But a ceasefire is both unrealistic and unfair to Israel for the reasons enumerated below.

A ceasefire in Gaza

Several ceasefire proposals are on the table from different mediators, the US, Egypt and Qatar among them. The mediators propose that the ceasefire takes place in phases, ultimately ending in the end of the war.

The first phase involves a six-week ceasefire along with an exchange of hostages. It has been proposed that 33 Israeli hostages be exchanged for hundreds of Palestinian prisoners. This will occur while the terms for the “permanent end to hostilities” is negotiated between the parties. The next phase involves the complete withdrawal of Israeli forces from Gaza, followed by the city’s reconstruction.

Why is a ceasefire unrealistic and unfair to Israel?

First, how can Israel agree to a ceasefire when Hamas has vowed to attack Israel repeatedly until the Jewish race is eradicated. With this overhanging threat, the Israeli leadership is duty-bound to protect its people from Hamas’ genocidal intentions. Hence, it cannot stop until Hamas is eliminated and its war machine destroyed. Rafah is the last bastion of Hamas and Israel is close to finishing the job.

Second, the only reason why Hamas is agreeing to a ceasefire is because it is losing. We should not forget that Hamas started this war and if it were winning, it will not stop until it achieves its genocidal objective.

Third, to agree to a ceasefire at this juncture will give Hamas the opportunity to regroup and re-arm. It will give the terrorist group the space it needs to wage more lethal attacks against Israel.

Fourth, the exchange of hostages is not proportionate. Hamas wants more Palestinian hostages released for every Israeli. And while the Israeli hostages are composed of innocent civilians, most Palestine hostages are known terrorists. Recall what happened when Palestinian terrorist Yahya Sinwar was released. He went on to plan and carry out the Oct. 7 attacks. Releasing Palestinian prisoners carries serious security implications.

Furthermore, Israel’s concern is the safety of its civilian hostages. Hamas’ concern is to use the hostages and the Palestinian people as leverage for war.

Fifth, by agreeing to a ceasefire, Israel effectively validates the legitimacy of Hamas, a known terrorist group. Doing so will be a disservice to the world. It will embolden other terrorist groups to attack sovereign states with impunity. Israel has the responsibility to quash terrorist groups to incapacitate them from hurting others.

Now, back to the brewing Israel-Hezbollah war. As it stands today, a full-scale war is likely even if Israel is worn-out from its war against Hamas.

That said, Israel needs the support of its allies as it prepares to fight yet another terrorist group. The US is crucial since it is Israel’s main source of weapons. But the Biden administration is treading a tightrope since Israel’s situation is a political liability in this election year.

Notwithstanding the political cost, we entreat the US to look beyond domestic politics and support Israel unequivocally. The same with other nations like the Philippines. The rules-based world simply cannot allow terrorist groups to prosper.

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Email: [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @aj_masigan

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