Israel took another step towards escalation today, with the apparent assassination of Wissam al-Tawil, a commander in Hezbollah’s elite Radwan force. Al-Tawil was killed when a missile slammed into the SUV he was in, according to Lebanese security sources, reported the Times of Israel. Israel has not confirmed it was behind the attack, but, ToI says, it will likely complicate U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s bid to keep Israel’s war against Hamas in the Gaza Strip from expanding into a second front.
ToI explains that the Radwan unit is Hezbollah’s elite commando force. According to reports, the unit had been stationed along Israel’s northern border and was planning an assault on northern Israel, but the plot was put on hold following Hamas’s surprise assault.
The hit on al-Tawil followed a threat issued by Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant on Jan. 7. “The priority isn’t to get into a war,” he said in comments published by the Wall Street Journal. But he added that “we are willing to sacrifice.… They see what is happening in Gaza. They know we can copy-paste to Beirut.”