Is Israel on the verge of expanding the war to southern Lebanon? Israeli National Security Advisor Tzachi Hanegbi, using the same logic that Israel is applying to Hamas in Gaza, warned yesterday that Israel could not accept a situation in which residents of Israel’s north, who were evacuated in the early weeks of the war, were afraid to return to their homes because they feared Hezbollah’s elite Radwan force could launch a cross-border attack on the north of Israel, as Hamas did in the south. “We can no longer accept the Radwan force sitting on the border…. The Israeli public … understand that the situation in the north needs to change. And it will change,” Hanegbi said in an interview with Israeli broadcaster Channel 12 news, reported the Financial Times. “If Hezbollah agrees to change it diplomatically, that’s good, if not—we will have to act. We will have to ensure that the situation in the north is different.”
Israeli Foreign Minister Benny Gantz met with U.S. Secretary of State Tony Blinken on Dec. 11, and stated that “heightened aggression and increased attacks by Iranian-backed Hezbollah demand of Israel to remove such a threat to the civilian population of northern Israel,” according to an Israeli readout of their meeting.
Israel is now also reported to be considering military action against the Houthis in Yemen, who have now effectively established a naval blockade in the Red Sea against Israeli-linked commercial vessels, reported Ynet News. Ynet indicates that there are two schools of thought in Israel on what to do about the Houthi “problem.” One is that Israel should respond with attacks on the Houthis themselves, because failure to do so would be seen as “weakness” on the part of Israel. The second view is that Israel should let the U.S. and the rest of the world deal with it. “This does not mean that Israel is not developing attack scenarios and is not preparing for a military option, but we think it makes more sense for the Americans to attack the Houthis,” said an official who holds this approach.
The Houthis, who have already clarified that their actions against Israel will continue until Israel stops its war in Gaza, are not impressed by Israeli threats. “We stand ready to confront any military action against ourselves,” Dhaifullah al-Shami, the information minister in Sana’a, stated on Dec. 9, stressing Yemeni forces’ solidarity with Palestinians in Gaza. “Any ship that seeks to deliver a consignment to Zionists will be in our crosshair,” Shami asserted, responding to reports of Netanyahu’s warning to the U.S. regarding potential Israeli action against Yemen’s military, reported Tasnim. Tasnim cites Israeli publication N12News as having reported Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s warning to President Joe Biden of potential Israeli military action against the Houthis if the U.S. does not act.