Amid Escalation, Israel Attacks Hezbollah Targets in Southern Lebanon

Attacks Likely to Lead to Wider Regional Conflict

With the very real possibility that the assassination of Hamas figure Saleh al-Arouri in Beirut earlier this week could expand the ongoing war, Israel seemingly increased the odds Thursday with a flurry of attacks on Hezbollah targets in Southern Lebanon. These hit an observation post and multiple infrastructure targets. They also reportedly struck an anti-tank squad.

Arouri was instrumental in brokering the major Israel-Hamas hostage exchange, and was reportedly trying to get another one going before Israel killed him. Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah warned in a televised speech that the assassination would not go unpunished and hitting Beirut was a very big deal indeed.

But while top Likud figures were crowing about the killing, many Israelis were openly expressing concern that the death of Arouri effectively put to rest the hope of a second hostage exchange. For those who still have family members held by Hamas, this is clearly nothing to celebrate.

And yet that may have been the point for Israeli hawks, who are not really on board for the exchange, and are more than happy to put the kibosh on a clear path to peace. If that means expanding the war into Lebanon, some of them are very much also on board with making that happen too.

Perennial hawk Avigdor Lieberman is openly calling for a 50-year occupation of Southern Lebanon to punish Hezbollah and establish a permanent buffer zone, effectively another occupied territory. This isn’t exactly official Israeli policy right now, but if it were to become so, nothing would facilitate it so much as provoking a full war with Hezbollah.

It’s not clear how many open-ended wars Israel can fight at once, but with the US openly supporting them with all the weapons they want, it seems at least some officials are trying to put that question to the test to find out.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.