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The Israelis themselves may blow the lid off in Lebanon. The Times of London reported on Dec. 18 that Israel’s military has drawn up plans to invade southern Lebanon, thus risking a further escalation in the war in the Middle East and in the face of calls for restraint from its Western allies. The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) says it wants to drive Hezbollah forces in southern Lebanon north to the Litani River, a line of symbolic importance for both sides.

According to The Times, initial fears that the conflict would spread more seriously to other fronts were lowered when Hassan Nasrallah, Hezbollah’s leader, said the group would not launch a major offensive unless provoked or unless Hamas was on the verge of an overwhelming defeat. However, Israel’s politicians and military strategists say they have decided that they cannot accept a simple ceasefire with Hezbollah at the end of the current war in Gaza.

“What happened in the south is nothing compared to what they could do here,” a senior officer said of northern Israel. “Israeli doctrine is to take the war to the other side.”

The decision as to whether to launch a ground force across the border is one for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his war cabinet. But there could be no going back to the status quo before Oct. 7, said IDF spokesman Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus. “The IDF is prepared, has been preparing. The IDF chief of staff has approved plans and defined schedules for readiness.”