Rockets and risks in Lebanon

I argued a few days ago that Hezbollah has no interest in provoking a war with Israel over the situation in Gaza. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t at risk of getting one. At least three rockets were launched from South Lebanon into Israel this morning, landing near the town of Nahariyeh. The rockets were ...

589738_090108_rockets5.jpg
589738_090108_rockets5.jpg

I argued a few days ago that Hezbollah has no interest in provoking a war with Israel over the situation in Gaza. But that doesn't mean they aren't at risk of getting one. At least three rockets were launched from South Lebanon into Israel this morning, landing near the town of Nahariyeh.

The rockets were likely fired by Palestinian militant organizations based in the refugee camps, not Hezbollah. Still, the rockets put Hezbollah in an awkward position. Hassan Nasrallah, after announcing that his group "will not abandon the fight or our weapons," cannot easily condemn the rocket attacks. Note that Hezbollah's initial denial of responsibility for the rocket attacks did not come from the group itself, but from Tarek Mitri, the government Information Minister. Nasrallah may not want a war, but he has placed himself in a position where he cannot oppose one.

Today's rockets lightly injured two Israelis. Though the IDF responded with mortar fire, they seem ready to shrug off the event as a minor incident. But if a subsequent attack hits a school or a hospital and the casualties are in the dozens, Israeli retaliation might be far more severe. And that could very easily drag Hezbollah into a conflict, whether they want one or not. The rockets being fired are primitive, unguided devices -- whether they hit military targets, unpopulated areas, or civilian neighborhoods is simply the luck of the draw. Cruelly, the fate of many innocent people in Lebanon largely depends on where these rockets happen to land.

I argued a few days ago that Hezbollah has no interest in provoking a war with Israel over the situation in Gaza. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t at risk of getting one. At least three rockets were launched from South Lebanon into Israel this morning, landing near the town of Nahariyeh.

The rockets were likely fired by Palestinian militant organizations based in the refugee camps, not Hezbollah. Still, the rockets put Hezbollah in an awkward position. Hassan Nasrallah, after announcing that his group “will not abandon the fight or our weapons,” cannot easily condemn the rocket attacks. Note that Hezbollah’s initial denial of responsibility for the rocket attacks did not come from the group itself, but from Tarek Mitri, the government Information Minister. Nasrallah may not want a war, but he has placed himself in a position where he cannot oppose one.

Today’s rockets lightly injured two Israelis. Though the IDF responded with mortar fire, they seem ready to shrug off the event as a minor incident. But if a subsequent attack hits a school or a hospital and the casualties are in the dozens, Israeli retaliation might be far more severe. And that could very easily drag Hezbollah into a conflict, whether they want one or not. The rockets being fired are primitive, unguided devices — whether they hit military targets, unpopulated areas, or civilian neighborhoods is simply the luck of the draw. Cruelly, the fate of many innocent people in Lebanon largely depends on where these rockets happen to land.

Photo: ANWAR AMRO/AFP/Getty Images

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