*Author’s Note: Brief update today, free time has been limited. Apologies*
Overnight, a pair of rockets were fired at northern Israel from Lebanon. One rocket was intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defense system and the other fell in an unpopulated area. There was no damage or casualties. Israel responded promptly with artillery strikes against the areas where the rockets were launched from. When morning came, Israeli politicians were framing the rocket attack as a signal that spillover of the crisis in Lebanon could be imminent. Prime Minister Naftali Bennett warned that Israel will not endure rocket fire from Lebanon. Terrorists will “pay a painful price.
Lebanon’s condition becomes more critical with every passing day. The nation is contending with an economic depression, as well as escalating political and social chaos. It is, for all intent and purposes, already a failed state. Amid Lebanon’s destabilization, Iran is moving preparing to exploit the situation for its own benefit. Israel worries about the prospect of increasing missile fire from southern Lebanon prompting a new threat on its northern border. As Lebanon’s woes deepen, its neighbor to the south beginning to deal with blowback. Sudanese and Turkish workers, unable to earn livings in Lebanon are attempting to sneak into Israel and look for jobs. A small thorn, yet one that could be an indicator of more dangerous things to come in the future. The security of Israel’s northern border has become a major concern. As always, there is a direct link to Iran and its influence in Lebanon.
Over the last twenty-four hours, the Gaza strip and southern Israel have been transformed into free-fire zones. Even with Egyptian-brokered ceasefire talks between the two sides underway, the volatile situation spilled over once more. A barrage of Hamas rockets and mortars was fired against Israel from positions in Gaza, prompting a wave of Israeli airstrikes against military targets in Palestinian territory. The majority of the projectiles fired by Hamas were intercepted by Israel’s Iron Dome system, but not all. Some did manage to make it through, causing injuries to at least 11 Israeli citizens. According to Palestinian government sources, three people were killed in the Israeli air attacks.
Some analysts believe Hamas is ratcheting up the attacks in order to show its strength during the negotiations. While possible, this strategy runs a serious risk of sparking a full-blown conflict with Israel, even if neither side wants that. Another prospect is that the order to initiate the latest rocket attacks came directly from Tehran. It is well known that the Iranian government has tremendous influence with Hamas. With the regime under increasing pressure from US economic sanctions snapping back into place, Iranian leadership might surmise that instigating a flareup of hostilities between Hamas and Israel will give it some needed breathing room. The timing of events certainly supports this possibility. Coincidences are rare in the world of Middle Eastern geopolitics.
Israeli citizens have been wounded in the attacks, opening a door to the possibility of further escalation. Public pressure on the Israeli government for further military action against Hamas could rise, contradicting the government’s desire to stabilize the situation. Protecting its citizens is the main priority for the Israeli government though. If the Hamas rocket attacks continue, and the number of Israeli casualties rises, this conflict could escalate dangerously. If that occurs, likelihood of a major conflict breaking out increases ten-fold.