Aswat Asharq Al-Awsat :
Tariq Al-Homayed
Saudi journalist and writer, and former editor-in-chief of Aswat Asharq Al-Awsatt newspaper

Aswat Asharq Al-Awsat : Beware: The Final, Most Brutal War

With Israel intensifying its operations against Hezbollah and achieving significant security breaches, there is a strong belief that any new conflict between Israel and Hezbollah could be their last and most devastating.

An Israeli-Hezbollah war, coming on the heels of the Gaza conflict, would provoke a severe confrontation with the West and the broader international community. If Israeli generals, not just Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, proceed with such a conflict, it would signal an intent for a barbaric war.

Readers might wonder, how? The ferocity displayed by Israel in Gaza was indicative of its post-“Operation Al-Aqsa Flood” stance, akin to the United States post-9/11—a rampaging bull that led to the fall of Saddam Hussein’s regime and the Taliban.

Israel's brutal tactics aim to restore its deterrence credibility and ensure Hamas cannot regain control over Gaza, a region Israel has vengefully devastated. This conflict is being waged despite clashes with the international community, particularly the US.

A conflict with Hezbollah now would be even more violent. Israel would approach it with the mindset that this must be the final war with Hezbollah, as the next would likely involve Iran directly.

Israel has, albeit temporarily while awaiting political solutions, neutralized the Gaza front that Iran exploited through Hamas and other factions. Is Lebanon likely to fare better? I doubt it. Israel seeks to dismantle Hezbollah’s stronghold as a prelude to confronting Iran.

Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant has revealed that Israeli jets over Lebanon are armed with heavier bombs for deeper targets. He indicated a readiness to strike up to 50 kilometers deep, including areas in Beirut and Syria.

This has led to a noticeable calm from Iran in Syria, suggesting Tehran understands the serious threat and is acting cautiously to protect the Syrian regime and Hezbollah.

Should a war between Israel and Hezbollah occur, it would be devastating, not merely to reassert deterrence or reset balances but as a lethal chess move to eliminate a key adversary.

Both Iran and Hezbollah seem to recognize this reality, which is why Hezbollah is enduring these blows, particularly the assassinations resulting from embarrassing security breaches.

Moreover, the Lebanon-based group’s base is increasingly anxious and restless.

The situation in southern Lebanon is critical. Israel now views Hezbollah, once Iran’s regional strength, as its weakness. This isn’t just about Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah’s strategy but also about Netanyahu’s political survival.

Netanyahu, who challenges Biden politically, would not hesitate to confront Nasrallah militarily.