Is a clash between Israel and Lebanon more likely at this time? Hezbollah is facing in recent days an onslaught of criticism and calls for action against it. The global pressure makes the Lebanese terror group more vulnerable to an Israeli attack.
On Thursday, Der Spiegel magazine reported that Germany will soon be outlawing Hezbollah activities in the country. The planned move will end the distinction between the group’s military and political wings, the report said.
Officials would not confirm the details about a full ban when asked for a comment by the media. However, it appears that one way or another, the German government intends to toughen its approach to Hezbollah.
Meanwhile, a UN report Tuesday urged Lebanon to disarm Hezbollah and accused the group of jeopardizing UN peacekeepers. The report condemned Hezbollah’s attack on IDF forces in September and said that this highlighted the “growing danger” posed by the organization.
“The Lebanese government must take the necessary steps to disarm Hezbollah and other groups in southern Lebanon,” the UN said. It also urged Lebanon to complete its probe into Hezbollah’s border tunnels and to prevent further digging.
Foreign Minister Yisrael Katz hailed the UN report and charged that “Hezbollah and its Iranian patron have taken Lebanon hostage.” Israel is firmly committed to preventing Iran from arming Hezbollah with weapons that threaten Israeli citizens, he said.
Last week, 240 members of the US Congress signed a letter urging the UN to limit Hezbollah’s activities on the Israel border.
Hezbollah has turned “much of Lebanon’s population into human shields” by stockpiling arms in civilian areas, the Congress members charged. An Israeli response to neutralize the threat could carry “devastating” consequences, they wrote.
Israel previously warned that it will not tolerate precision-guided missiles on Lebanese soil. The Foreign Ministry reportedly relayed firm messages to the US and other countries in October, stressing this point and calling for international efforts to limit Hezbollah.
The current climate of anti-Hezbollah sentiment could make the world more sympathetic to an IDF assault in Lebanon. Moreover, the group faces growing criticism at home amid nationwide protests. A preemptive Israeli strike in Lebanon is more likely under these conditions.