Rising Tensions: Potential Conflict Between Israel and Hezbollah
A full-scale war between Israel and Lebanon’s Hezbollah militant group is feared by many, with some seeing it as an inevitable result of Israel’s war against Hamas in Gaza. Cease-fire negotiations have faltered, increasing the risk of conflict.

The 2006 Conflict

In 2006, Hezbollah captured two Israeli soldiers, prompting Israel to launch a full-scale offensive. The conflict caused widespread destruction in southern Lebanon and northern Israel, with 1,200 Lebanese and 160 Israelis killed. A UN resolution ended the war, calling for Israeli withdrawal and a demilitarized zone.

Current Threats

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has warned that a new war could be catastrophic. Hezbollah began firing rockets into northern Israel after Hamas’ October 7 attack. Daily cross-border strikes have since occurred. Over 450 people have been killed in Lebanon and 27 in Israel. The Israeli army has prepared for an offensive in Lebanon, pending political approval. Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah has threatened a limitless fight if Israel attacks and refuses a cease-fire on the border before one in Gaza.

War Preparations

Hezbollah and Israel have expanded their military capabilities since 2006. Lebanon’s economic crisis has weakened public institutions, including the army and health system. Over 95,000 Lebanese have been displaced from the border. Israel faces economic strain from the Gaza conflict, expected to cost over $50 billion. Israel has evacuated 60,000 border residents, but further evacuations might be futile due to Hezbollah’s rocket range.

Potential War Scenarios

A full-scale war could involve Iranian proxies in Syria, Iraq, and Yemen, and possibly Iran itself, drawing the U.S. deeper into the conflict. Hezbollah has 150,000 to 200,000 rockets and missiles, some capable of hitting Israeli infrastructure. Israeli airstrikes would likely cause severe damage in Lebanon. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has threatened extensive destruction in Beirut, similar to Gaza.

Defense Capabilities

Israel is protected by air defense systems like the Iron Dome, with a 90% success rate. Many Israelis have private safe rooms or access to bomb shelters. Lebanon lacks such a network, and shelters would be ineffective against powerful bombs. Hezbollah has limited air defenses, and the Lebanese army’s outdated systems suffer from budget issues. The Lebanese army has stayed out of the current conflict since October 7.

Both sides are preparing for the worst, hoping to avoid another devastating war.