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Playing With Fire on the Lebanese Border

(Photo: AP/Ariel Schalit)

Since the end of the last war between Israel and Lebanon in 2006, the prospect of renewed hostilities between the two countries has been viewed as almost inevitable by most observers. As heinous and destructive as that conflict was, it ultimately resolved none of the underlying issues between the respective parties and seemed only to set the table for yet another escalation of fighting.

Wednesday’s events have primed both sides for just such an escalation.

After an Israeli drone strike on January 18th killed several high-ranking Hezbollah operatives (including the son of prolific former commander Imad Mughniyeh), the group delivered its expected retaliation today by ambushing an Israeli military convoy traveling through a disputed zone near the Lebanese border.

Video footage broadcast by Israel’s Channel 10 News of the aftermath of the attack in the Israeli-occupied Shebaa Farms area showed the wreckage of several military vehicles which appeared to have been hit by anti-tank munitions. The Israeli military confirmed that at least two soldiers were killed and seven more wounded in the assault. A communique issued by Hezbollah shortly thereafter claimed responsibility.

This tit-for-tat violence is the worst since the 2006 war, which resulted in thousands of deaths and wrought massive destruction throughout South Lebanon. Then as now, the conflict was triggered by border clashes that spiraled out of control and escalated into something neither party had bargained for.

Indeed, in a prompt demonstration of how quickly things can get out of hand, Israel retaliated to today’s ambush by shelling Lebanese territory, killing one United Nations peacekeeper.

Also in response to the ambush, Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman called for a “harsh… disproportionate” response. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned in a speech that “all those who are challenging us on our northern border [near Lebanon], look at what happened in Gaza.”

Read the full article at The Intercept.

Murtaza Hussain, The Intercept

Murtaza Hussain is a journalist and political commentator now working for First Look Media. His work focuses on human rights, foreign policy and cultural affairs. Murtaza’s work has appeared in The New York Times, The Guardian, The Globe and Mail, Salon and elsewhere. Twitter at @mazmhussain.

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