Israel will invade Lebanon in late spring if conflict continues to escalate, Biden’s intel warns

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President Joe Biden’s intel team has recently warned that Israel is actually planning a ground operation in southern Lebanon in a few months if diplomatic efforts fail to push Hezbollah away from the border.

According to a CNN report, though the decision is not yet final, the threat is acute enough that it has made its way into intelligence briefings for senior administration officials, as per one person who received a briefing and was told an operation could happen in early summer or spring. “We are operating with the assumption that an Israeli military operation is planned in the coming months,” the anonymous U.S. official told the news agency. “Not necessarily imminently in the next few weeks but perhaps later this spring. An Israeli military operation is a distinct possibility.”

The Biden intel said that he thinks what Israel is doing is that they are raising this threat in the hope that there will be a negotiated agreement. He added that some Israeli officials suggested that it is more of an effort at creating a threat that they can utilize while others speak of it more as a military necessity that’s going to happen. A second senior Biden administration official said there are elements inside the Israeli government and military in favor of an incursion. “There’s a growing group that says: ‘Hey, let’s just take a shot. Let’s just do it,’” the senior official said. He further stated that any incursion could lead to a major, major escalation that we don’t even know the proportions of.

A third source knowledgeable about U.S. intel also told CNN that there is a great possibility that the current Israeli aerial campaign against Lebanon could expand, reaching “much further north into populated areas of Lebanon and eventually grow to a ground component as well.”

During the past few days, Israel’s air campaign has been ramping up. According to reports, strikes last week came within 27 miles of the capital, Beirut, the farthest into Lebanese territory from the border since the violence started immediately following Hamas’ October 7 attack in Israel. Last week, Israel struck the Hezbollah stronghold Baalbek in the northeast of the country. “There are fears this will grow to an expansive air campaign reaching much further north into populated areas of Lebanon and eventually grow to a ground component as well,” another source stated.

Meanwhile, Lebanon’s Hezbollah has vowed to continue attacking Israel until the war in Gaza is brought to an end despite the West’s demand for its withdrawal from the border region.

Washington has been pushing a de-escalation proposal since the start of this month. The proposed deal included a vague border demarcation agreement which Lebanon’s foreign minister recently referred to as a partial solution. The Lebanese government has not officially responded to the proposal as of yet. But earlier in February, Lebanese media cited sources as saying that a Hezbollah withdrawal from the border is “unthinkable” and that officials in Lebanon believe the proposal fails to meet the country’s fundamental demands. (Related: Local media reports IDF is set to launch full-blown war with Hezbollah in Lebanon.)

IDF drone attack kills Hezbollah leader’s grandson

The tensions continue to rise in the Middle East as the grandson of Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah, Abbas Ahmed Halil, was one of the three Hezbollah terrorists killed on Saturday when Israel Defense Forces (IDF) held a drone strike in Neqoura in south Lebanon on Sunday.

According to a report by the Syrian radio channel Voice of the Capital, the news is yet to be confirmed by official sources, but the report cites the same attack in which the IDF announced that three Hezbollah operatives were killed in a vehicle in southern Lebanon after it was attacked by an Israeli drone strike.

The Hezbollah-affiliated newspaper Al-Manar also reported the airstrike in the village of Kila in southern Lebanon and artillery strikes in the villages of Aitaroun and Belida, which are close to the border with Israel. The IDF’s violent attacks, since it retaliated the Hamas’ initial October strike, have already killed more than 200 Hezbollah fighters and some 50 civilians in Lebanon, while attacks from Lebanon into Israel have killed a dozen Israeli soldiers and five civilians. Tens of thousands of Israelis and Lebanese have fled villages on both sides of the frontier.

According to the Lebanese Shia Islamist political party and militant group, it would halt its attacks if Israel’s Gaza offensive stops, but it is also ready to keep on fighting if the Gaza war continues.

Sources for this article include:

TheCradle.coEdition.CNN.comJPost.com