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Chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff says US may be unable to assist Israel if Iran joins war with Hezbollah

US has been firm in stance against further escalation between Israel and Hezbollah

View of a house that was hit from a rocket fired from Lebanon into the northern Israeli city of Kiryat Shmona, June 24, 2024. (Photo: David Cohen/Flash90)

The chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff warned on Sunday that an escalation of fighting between Israel and Hezbollah could lead to an all-out war in the Middle East. 

Air Force Gen. Charles Q. Brown warned that a full-scale war between Israel and Hezbollah would likely involve Iran and that the United States may not be able to provide the same assistance to Israel as it did during the Iranian attack in April. 

Brown said Iran is firm in its support for Hezbollah in Lebanon and would likely help the group, “particularly if they felt that Hezbollah was being significantly threatened.” 

His comments were made during a trip to Botswana for a meeting of African defense ministers. 

While the U.S. helped Israel down several missiles from Iran in April, that attack involved ballistic missiles and drones covering a much larger distance, with more time to acquire targeting data and intercept the incoming threats. However, a war with Hezbollah would involve the firing of shorter-range ballistic missiles with a flight time measured in seconds. 

Brown said these shorter-range rockets are harder to intercept and also raised the issue of the safety of U.S. service members deployed in the Middle East. He noted that no U.S. military bases have been attacked since February. 

Brown said U.S. officials have been in ongoing discussions with Israeli leaders about the threat of an escalating conflict between Israel and Hezbollah. American officials have asked Israeli leaders “to think about the second order of effect of any type of operation into Lebanon, and how that might play out and how it impacts not just the region, but how it impacts our forces in regions as well,” Brown stated. 

In an interview with Channel 14 on Sunday night, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that while he hoped for a diplomatic solution to the conflict with Hezbollah, Israel would be ready to use force.

"We can fight on several fronts, and we are also preparing for that,” Netanyahu stated. 

However, the prime minister said Israel is open to an agreement to diffuse the situation with Hezbollah, insisting that “it must be on our terms.” 

Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant is currently visiting Washington, along with a team of Israeli defense officials. They are expected to have several discussions about the situation with Hezbollah. 

On Monday, Gallant met with U.S. envoy on Lebanon Amos Hochstein to discuss "what actions are required in order to reach a situation which allows the northern residents to return to their homes” in Israel.

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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