Report: Israel Sets March 15 as Deadline for ‘Broad War’ Against Lebanon

Aid groups urge immediate ceasefire on humanitarian grounds

While tensions are high on the Lebanon-Israel border right now, there are reports that recent visits by a US envoy made some progress with a roadmap based on UN Security Council Resolution 1701 which ended the 2007 Israel-Lebanon war.

Nevertheless Israel has reportedly ratcheted down hopes for a truce by the March 15 deadline Tel Aviv set for launching a broad war against neighboring Lebanon.

Fighting along the border has been raging for months, with tens of thousands of residents displaced on both sides amid near-daily fire. At one point, Israel announced that returning residents to their homes was the primary incentive for the strikes.

More recently, however, Israel shifted to the long-term goal of removing Hezbollah from the border region. While both US and French proposals for peace would do this, they also appear to be non-starters as long as a Gaza ceasefire is not in place.

A large coalition of aid agencies has urged the cessation of hostilities on humanitarian grounds. They noted the 42 civilians killed since Israeli strikes began, including 7 children. They also reported that some 91,288 civilians were displaced from southern Lebanon.

In detailing the $1.2 billion in direct losses in the south, much of the destruction was inflicted on local farmland, with white phosphorus in particular causing considerable damage. This includes the destruction of 47,000 olive trees.

Meantime, Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant has been talking up the possibility of using a ceasefire as an opportunity to escalate the war in Lebanon by diverting resources from the Gaza Strip.

Still, while a Gaza ceasefire has not been reached, Hamas said talks could resume over the coming weekend. There is hope for a Ramadan ceasefire, although as that month-long religious holiday begins March 10, there is not much time to forestall an all-out Lebanon war.

Hezbollah deputy leader Naim Qassem downplayed the chances of a broader war, saying he is “90% sure that there will not be a large scale war,” adding that it would require Israel or the US to change their position for there to be one.

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.