Hezbollah-Israel: What could mean a new war for Lebanon in 2024?

No need to be psychic and clairvoyant or to listen to Michel Hayek predictions to forecast a potential war between Israel and Hezbollah. A new war in 2024 could have devastating consequences for Lebanon. It would likely result in significant civilian casualties, further destabilize the country, and exacerbate the existing political and economic challenges.

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As Israeli Prime minister Netanyahu's future in bound to the continuation of the war in Gaza – and probably to the opening of a second front with Hezbollah –, any trivial event could pull the trigger. In Beirut, many analysts think that Hezbollah would have no interest into going to war. But no one can say from where could emerge the spark that will lit the fire. ©ByTheEast

The vast destruction of the Gaza strip infrastructures and the death toll among the Palestinian people should be enough to have a chilling effect on Hezbollah, thinks the far-right establishment in Tel-Aviv. Sure, a new conflict – 18 years after the devastating July war in 2006 – would have a lot of consequences on Lebanon which has become a failed state over the years. Lebanon’s infrastructure would be severely impacted, and it would struggle to recover amidst a war-ravaged environment. The international community must prioritize diplomatic efforts and engage with all parties involved to prevent such a conflict and work towards long-term peace and stability in the region.

The delicate relationship between Hezbollah and Israel has long been a source of tension and instability in the Middle East. Both sides have been engaged in a series of confrontations over the years, leaving the region on edge. As 2024 begins, there are growing concerns about the possibility of a new war between these two adversaries and the potential consequences it could have for Lebanon. Since October 7th and Hamas’ attacks on Israel, the border between Israel and Lebanon has witness daily rocket launches. The question is: could the escalation be without limit?

Fragile equilibrium

Hezbollah, the Shiite political and military organization based in Lebanon, has evolved from a resistance movement during the Lebanese civil war in the 1980s into a powerful force in Lebanese politics and society. It emerged as a significant player due to its armed wing, which played a key role in resisting Israel’s occupation of southern Lebanon until the Israeli withdrawal in 2000. Since then, Hezbollah has remained a thorn in Israel’s side. The organization has stockpiled an impressive arsenal of rockets and missiles, with support from its main ally, Iran. Meanwhile, Israel views Hezbollah as a significant security threat, constantly monitoring the group’s activities and occasionally launching preemptive strikes against its operations in Lebanese territory. And the recent news from the border does not encourage optimism.

The potential for a new war in 2024 stems from a combination of factors. Firstly, Hezbollah’s influence in Lebanon continues to grow, allowing it to exert significant control over the country’s political and military apparatuses. This consolidation of power has led to concerns that Hezbollah may use its position to carry out aggressive actions against Israel, potentially provoking a large-scale conflict. The political turmoil in Beirut – Lebanon has no president since 2022 – and the terrible economic crisis have added to the confusion.

Secondly, the volatile regional dynamics further exacerbate the situation. Iran, a staunch supporter of Hezbollah, is locked in a power struggle with Israel and its ally, the United States. Any escalation in tensions between Iran and Israel could easily spill over into Lebanon, dragging Hezbollah and the rest of the country into another destructive war.

Additionally, recent events in the region have intensified the underlying animosity between Hezbollah and Israel. The devastating explosion in the port of Beirut in August 2020 further weakened Lebanon’s economy and social fabric, deepening the country’s existing political and socioeconomic crises. This instability could potentially push Hezbollah to seek an external distraction or a show of force against Israel, further heightening the risk of a conflict.

Preventing a new war

A new war in Lebanon would undoubtedly carry significant consequences for the region. Lebanon, already burdened by economic collapse, political gridlock, and the Syrian refugee crisis, would face tremendous destruction and human suffering. The country’s infrastructure, already weakened by years of neglect, would be further devastated, exacerbating the already dire living conditions for its citizens

Furthermore, a conflict would have broader regional implications. Given Hezbollah’s significant military capabilities, Israel would likely respond with overwhelming force, potentially leading to a protracted war with high civilian casualties. The conflict could also draw neighboring countries, such as Syria and Iran, into the equation, further inflaming the situation and potentially triggering a broader regional war.

In light of these potential risks, it is essential for regional and international actors to prioritize diplomatic and political solutions to prevent further escalation. Efforts should be made to address the underlying issues that exacerbate tensions between Hezbollah and Israel, such as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the influence of external powers in the region.

Preventing a new war requires a multifaceted approach that combines political dialogue, economic aid, and confidence-building measures. Regional powers, such as Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and Egypt, should play a proactive role in promoting stability and de-escalation. International organizations, including the United Nations and the European Union, should support these efforts and engage in mediations between the conflicting parties.

It is crucial to recognize that a new war between Hezbollah and Israel would not only devastate Lebanon but also have far-reaching consequences for stability in the Middle East. By prioritizing diplomacy, dialogue, and cooperation, the parties involved can work towards achieving a peaceful resolution and preventing further bloodshed. But as Prime minister Netanyahu’s future in bound to the continuation of the war in Gaza – and probably to the opening of a second front with Hezbollah –, any trivial event could pull the trigger. In Beirut, many analysts think that Hezbollah would have no interest into going to war. But no one can say from where could emerge the spark that will lit the fire.