For the couple standing in front of the “Iranian Garden” in Maroun al-Ras, Israel is initially just the backdrop for a selfie.

From here the view not only falls on the nearby border fortifications at the foot of the mountain;

you can see for miles into the southern neighboring country.

Several visitors to the excursion destination in southern Lebanon pose in front of the rolling Galilee landscape as if it were a somehow gruesome attraction, a forbidden country.

The military test of strength that is being carried out across the border seems a long way off.

Yet the armed conflict in Gaza creates fears that violence may spill over into Lebanon, which is still at war with Israel.

Christoph Ehrhardt

Correspondent for the Arab countries based in Beirut.

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    When the rocket fire by militant Palestinians on Israeli cities escalated as well as the retaliatory strikes by the Israeli air force, the question quickly arose whether another front might be opened in southern Lebanon.

    Hezbollah, a close ally of the Iranian regime, which to a much lesser extent also supports Hamas in Gaza, controls the area.

    The Shiite organization and the Israeli army have been on the brink of a new war for years, although - at least for now - neither side actually wants it.

    Missiles fired in Lebanon land in the sea

    Again and again, fighter-bombers remind the Lebanese of the military superiority of Israel in low flight. Time and again, drones circle over the border area or the southern suburbs of Beirut, which, like the south of Lebanon, are ruled by Hezbollah. For its part, the Shiite organization sends drones across the border and never tires of indulging in extermination fantasies and pointing out the destructive power of its own rockets, which will fall on Israeli cities in the event of a war.

    There are repeated incidents that always harbor the risk of an unintentional escalation. The military confrontation between Israel and Hamas is also having an impact on Lebanon. On Thursday, Palestinian extremists from southern Lebanon fired several rockets in the direction of Israel, which, however, hit the Mediterranean Sea without causing any damage. Hezbollah denied having anything to do with it - even if such a thing could hardly happen in the region without her approval.

    A 21-year-old member of Hezbollah was killed at the border on Friday when the Israeli military fired warning shots with heavy weapons at a group of people who had protested against the military operation in the Gaza Strip and tried to close a security fence, according to the Lebanese news agency overcome.

    On Saturday there were clashes between the Israeli army and demonstrators.

    But Hezbollah does not seem to want to intervene in the confrontation in Gaza.

    UN peacekeeping forces are being sabotaged

    "We are not interested in a war," says a man in the border area who calls himself Abu Hussein and introduces himself as a high-ranking Hezbollah functionary. “We will of course defend ourselves. If the enemy penetrates Lebanese territory, there will be a massacre, ”he added. “But we have other worries right now.” He means the collapse of the Lebanese economy, the progressive disintegration of the state. This crisis characterizes the streetscape in the border area. Petrol is currently in short supply, long queues form in front of the petrol stations, and the population is hit by food prices. "The people are angry," says Abu Hussein, who also emphasizes that Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah is not to blame for the misery.

    Earlier this month, Nasrallah had reinforced his troops in the border area and put them on alert. The Israeli forces had planned a major maneuver - for a multi-front war. Israel better not make a mistake, threatened the Hezbollah leader. The military exercise has now been suspended. Instead, “something like a real-time simulation is running in front of Hezbollah,” says a security expert in Beirut. "You can now observe how the Israeli missile defense reacts and how the country behaves under rocket fire." Abu Hussein does not reveal any details. He only speaks of “enormous information”, and he puts on a telling face that is primarily intended to speak of self-confidence.

    This is also being felt by the UN peacekeeping force UNIFIL, which has called on both sides to exercise restraint in the course of the most recent incidents at the border. The UN soldiers are repeatedly confronted with attempts by Hezbollah to thwart their work, for example by dismantling cameras. “We just don't like them,” says Abu Hussein with a shrug.