Lebanese soldiers and members of the Civil Defense remove the rubble resulting from an Israeli raid on the city of Baalbek in central Bekaa (French)


- The “mini-war” between Israel and Hezbollah is growing along the border between Lebanon and occupied Palestine, and the area of ​​​​fire extended deep into Lebanon, breaking many of the rules of engagement, and the last of that was recorded on Monday, when Israel attacked for the first time since the beginning of the war and even since the July War. July 2006 on the city of Baalbek, eastern Lebanon.

After the Israeli bombing of southern Lebanon and its surroundings sometimes targeted civilians, inhabited villages, facilities and infrastructure, Monday’s escalation was fraught with implications about the destructive and military capabilities of both parties.

The beginning was with Hezbollah shooting down an advanced Israeli drone, the Hormuz 450, with a surface-to-air missile over the Iqlim al-Tuffah area, located about 20 kilometers from the border.

This, according to observers, indicated that Hezbollah was displaying a sample of its military capabilities, specifically its air capabilities.

As a result, the Israeli army launched a series of raids in Baalbek, eastern Lebanon. The army said that its raids targeted an air defense system belonging to the party, in response to the downing of its march, which the latter did not confirm, but announced the “martyrdom of two” of its members.

Within hours, Hezbollah fired a barrage of about 60 missiles towards the headquarters of an Israeli military division in the Golan, in response to the Baalbek raids.

Recently, Israel seems intent on striking Hezbollah targets, facilities, and infrastructure outside the south, coinciding with escalatory Israeli statements, the latest of which came from the Israeli Defense Minister, Yoav Galant, who said, “If a temporary truce is reached between Israel and the Hamas movement, It will not include confrontations with Hezbollah in southern Lebanon.”

The attack on Baalbek is reminiscent of the targeting of two Israeli raids about a week ago, on two factories in the city of Ghaziyeh, adjacent to Sidon on the main southern highway, and for the first time since the start of the war.

A few days ago, Israeli platforms published a video claiming the presence of Hezbollah missile sites in Jbeil Keserwan in Mount Lebanon, which was quickly denied by the Lebanese Ministry of Energy.

This comes as Israel deliberately targets civilians in Lebanon, most recently committing a massacre in the cities of Nabatieh and Al-Sowanah, which claimed the lives of about 15 civilians, including women and children.

Smoke rising from Israeli sites in the Upper Galilee after being subjected to missile attack from southern Lebanon (Al Jazeera)

 Break the rules of engagement

Many consider that the qualitative military strikes recorded by Hezbollah constitute a major provocation against Israel, which has set the goal of removing Hezbollah from the south of the Litani, as a condition for stopping its strikes on Lebanon and for returning more than 100,000 settlers to the north.

Meanwhile, Hezbollah says, through its Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah, that the floor is up to the field, and that the fate of the south as a support front for Hamas is linked to stopping the Israeli aggression on the Gaza Strip.

Writer and political analyst Tawfiq Shoman believes that Israel’s attack on Baalbek was preceded by major geographical violations that affected several areas on the Lebanese coast, the southern suburbs of Beirut, Ghaziyeh, Iqlim al-Tuffah, Nabatieh, Jezzine, and others.

In an interview with Al Jazeera Net, he believes that Israel’s breaking of the rules of engagement with Hezbollah serves two goals:

  • Negotiating by fire coincided with the intensification of its aggression against Gaza and the Quartet meeting in Paris in search of an agreement on a possible truce.

  • An attempt to go to a semi-open war in southern Lebanon, to put pressure on Hezbollah on the one hand, and to suggest to the settlers in the north that the Israeli army has the upper hand in protecting them and punishing those who threaten their security.

Shoman believes that what Lebanon is currently witnessing puts it in a very dangerous stage, especially since, in his opinion, Israel is preparing to strike many targets throughout the entire Lebanese geography, which was evident in Baalbek, and before that in Ghaziyeh and Nabatieh, and the publication of a fake video about the party’s military site in Jbeil.

He added, "Israel also struck entire residential neighborhoods, as is happening in the border town of Blida, for example, and struck the industrial, agricultural, and service infrastructure in southern Lebanon and its environs. This means that Israel has a list of other, more sensitive and dangerous targets in the next stage."

For his part, writer and political analyst Ali Hamada told Al Jazeera Net that Israel's targeting of Hezbollah in Baalbek, about 100 kilometers north of the border, goes beyond the framework of a response to the downing of the Israeli march.

He sees the data of gradual escalation as a translation of Israeli threats, which reflect a desire to raise the level of violence, to solve the “dilemma” of Israel’s situation on the northern border.

As a reminder, Israel's fears before last October 7 centered around the danger coming from the north and not from the south, according to Hamada, who pointed out that the scenario of a ground penetration was possible in the Galilee, until the surprise "Al-Aqsa Flood" exploded in the Gaza Strip.

Since the front is open and the war is continuing in Gaza, Israel may find, according to the same spokesman, “a good opportunity to confront the threat of Hezbollah, because its enormous military and human capabilities constitute its greatest concern. Otherwise, it would launch a comprehensive war on Lebanon from the day after the Al-Aqsa flood.”

Between war and diplomacy

Tawfiq Shoman finds that there is a heated race between war and diplomacy, in Gaza and Lebanon as well, considering that the coming days will be decisive and sensitive, and Israel may escalate its attacks and commit more massacres, coinciding with the intensification of American and British strikes against the Houthis in Yemen.

Despite the Paris talks, Schuman believes that the truce will not be achieved as long as Washington continues its great and effective support for Israel, diplomatically and militarily.

On the other hand, Ali Hamadeh believes that a comprehensive war in Lebanon is still unlikely, suggesting the possibility of Israel expanding its strikes and its target bank, which may reach even northern Lebanon.

The same analyst also believes that Hezbollah is under great pressure, after losing more than 220 military personnel, in addition to the massive damage to the border areas, which have become an open battlefield, causing the displacement of tens of thousands of their residents.

Therefore, Hamadeh believes that the strikes north of the Litani will become a daily Israeli routine.

He says, "The Baalbek strike simply indicates that Israel has begun searching for targets for Hezbollah outside the south."

However, Hamadeh believes that diplomacy always has its place, but what is striking, according to him, is that the Paris meetings did not link the fate of the war in Gaza to the situation on the Lebanese-Israeli border, recalling that the movement of Western delegations has become almost non-existent in Beirut, after Hezbollah refused to discuss the French proposal and the mechanism for implementing the decision. 1701 before the war in Gaza stopped.

He added, "There is perhaps a conviction among the French and Americans that it is impossible to convince Hezbollah to control tension and stop its strikes, which exacerbates the danger of a gradual slide toward war, from where both parties do not know, as long as the word is in the field, as Nasrallah said."

Source: Al Jazeera