Amos Hochstein, a senior adviser to President Biden, is in Israel to hold talks with Israeli officials on preventing a major war with Lebanon as fighting between Israeli and Hezbollah forces across the Israel-Lebanon border continues to escalate, Axios reported on Monday.
Hezbollah rocket strikes on Monday caused heavy damage to Israel’s Birant military base near the Lebanon border, but no casualties were reported. Israel’s military said it responded with fighter jets, helicopters, and tanks, which targeted Hezbollah sites in southern Lebanon.
According to Axios, there’s growing anxiety in the White House that Israel’s military action could lead to a regional war. Some Biden administration officials believe Israel is trying to intentionally provoke Hezbollah to create a pretext for a wider war in Lebanon that can draw in the US.
The US has emboldened Israel to be aggressive by deploying a huge amount of firepower to the region in the name of “deterring” regional actors from entering a war against Israel.
Hochstein is Biden’s energy adviser and has experience mediating talks between Lebanon and Israel regarding gas drilling rights in the Mediterranean Sea. He was recently in Lebanon to meet with officials to discuss tensions with Israel.
“This trip builds on Hochstein’s visit to Beirut earlier this month where he made clear the United States does not want to see conflict in Gaza escalating and expanding into Lebanon,” a US official said. “While in Israel, Hochstein will emphasize that restoring calm along Israel’s northern border is of utmost importance to the United States and it should be a top priority for both Israel and Lebanon.”
Hochstein is expected to meet with senior Israeli officials, including Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, who has repeatedly threatened Lebanon with destruction. Gallant warned last week that “what we are doing in Gaza, we can do in Beirut.”