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Neither Side Wants War, But That Was True Last Time

As we report in today’s Daily Dispatch, the two IDF soldiers killed in yesterday’s Hezbollah attack on the Lebanon border will be laid to rest today in Israel. Now all of Israel and the world wait to see what the next developments will be. The Times of Israel’s Avi Issacharoff looks at the perilous situation and says that neither side wants an all-out war, though the same was true in 2006:

The latest developments along the northern border can be summed up in a single word: escalation. The rocket fire on Tuesday toward the Golan Heights and Wednesday’s anti-tank missile attack against an IDF convoy in the Mount Dov area, in which two soldiers were killed, show that Hezbollah seeks to convey to Israel that it is not afraid of full-fledged war.

The Shiite group may even actively seek to draw Israel into a ground incursion in the Syrian Golan …

Despite the indications that a further deterioration may be lurking just around the corner, we can safely say that Hezbollah is not running headstrong to all-out war with Israel. There has been no action as of this writing that indicated a true desire for war, or that we could witness rocket fire against the center of the country and against major cities like Haifa and Tiberias. As of yet, this is not the story.

Thing is, once Hezbollah decides to play a game of “catch me if you can” by targeting IDF soldiers, it is hard to tell how far things will spiral. It can begin with “only” anti-tank missiles, escalate to an Israeli response hitting Hezbollah targets, which will be answered by the Shiite group, and so on and so forth, until both sides find themselves at war without having wished for it. Hezbollah was not looking for war when it abducted Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev on July 12, 2006 …

And there is another question to ponder: How will Hamas act in case of an escalation in the north? The last war against Hezbollah started when the organization decided to abduct Israeli soldiers two and a half weeks after the abduction of Gilad Shalit in Gaza. Hezbollah jumped onto the bandwagon of existing escalation down south.

Nowadays, the relationship between Hamas and Hezbollah is different. The ties between the organizations have become loose and even hostile following developments in the wider Arab world and the open hatred between Hamas and the Syrian regime.

The concern is that under the shadow of escalation vis-à-vis Hezbollah and in light of the difficult economic position of the Gaza terror group, Hamas may try to come closer to Iran and win some financial support, even at the risk of a low-level confrontation with Israel. In other words: one cannot reject a scenario where some rocket fire from Gaza will heat up the southern front in a Hamas effort to thaw the ice with Tehran.

Tags: Middle East Unrest , Hezbollah , Israel

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