While much of the world's attention is currently focused on Israel's possible ground campaign into Gaza, the northern front with Hezbollah is, perhaps, even more critical.
Israel’s leaders are reportedly considering a preemptive strike against Hezbollah rocket launching positions in Lebanon, while Iran has also threatened a possible preemptive strike by Hezbollah against Israel in response to the war in Gaza.
“There is real momentum behind this idea of Israel launching a first strike against Hezbollah‘s aerial munitions in Lebanon,” Anthony added.
A preemptive strike, he said, is viewed as a way to “defang Hezbollah – a far more potent enemy than Hamas – and, therefore, allow us to operate more thoroughly and for longer against Hamas in the Gaza Strip.”
Anthony also said such a strike “would not be considered a preemptive strike, because we’re already in the midst of a low-level conflict with Hezbollah.”
Retired IDF Major General Yaakov Amidror said that Israel “should be prepared to stage on both fronts,” saying that Hezbollah might make the decision before Israel does.
Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian warned on Monday that Hezbollah is prepared to open a new front at any time.
“Leaders of the Resistance [Hezbollah] will not allow the Zionist regime to take any action in Gaza,” Amir-Abdollahian said.
“The resistance front is capable of waging a long-term war with the enemy [Israel],” he added. “In the coming hours, we can expect a preemptive action by the resistance front.”
In an apparent attempt to deny responsibility for such an attack from Iran, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi said that Hezbollah makes its own decisions independently.
The U.S. government has warned Iran against provoking an escalation via its terror proxy organization, Hezbollah. The U.S. Department of Defense has already sent two carrier strike groups to the Mediterranean as a show of support for Israel, and a warning to Hezbollah.
On Monday, U.S. Army General Erik Kurilla, head of U.S. Central Command (USCENTCOM), made a surprise visit to Israel to speak with IDF leaders about what is needed ahead of the Gaza ground campaign.
“I'm here to ensure Israel has what it needs to defend itself, particularly focused on avoiding other parties expanding the conflict,” Kurilla told Reuters.
Meanwhile, i24 news in Israel reported that during U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin's visit last week, he asked Israel not to launch a preemptive attack against Hezbollah targets.
Austin reportedly offered U.S. air support against Hezbollah in the event of an attack if Israel did not attack first. He also reportedly ordered 2,000 U.S. troops to be on standby, ready to support Israel in an advisory and medical support role.
The United States is currently working on negotiating the release of Hamas hostages being held in Gaza and has pressured Israel to open humanitarian aid corridors in order to assist in the negotiations.
The U.S. is reportedly opposed to an Israeli ground campaign, fearing it would endanger the hostages.
The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.