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Israel, Hezbollah cling to deterrence to avoid escalation

Most experts doubt an expansion of the Israel-Hezbollah conflict on the Lebanon-Israel border, but events on another border could change that.
Smoke billows above the village of Khiyam, in southern Lebanon, during an Israeli bombardment near the Lebanese border, Feb. 8, 2024.

BEIRUT — The frequency of shelling between Hezbollah and the Israeli military on the Lebanon-Israel border continues to raise fears that the thus far low-intensity conflict will devolve into a full-fledged war.

On Oct. 8, Hezbollah shot missiles at three Israeli targets in the Shebaa Farms area "in solidarity" with the Palestinian people the day after Israel began an aerial bombardment of Gaza as part of Operation Iron Swords following the attack Hamas launched the day before into southern Israel.

"Our history, our guns and our rockets are with you," said senior Hezbollah official Hashem Safieddine at an Oct. 8 event in Dahiyeh, in Beirut's southern suburbs.

Hezbollah says it is targeting Israeli military positions near the border, supporting Gaza and the "Palestinian resistance," while Israel attacks Hezbollah's "military infrastructure" and its fighters near the border. The clashes, confined to a depth of 3–5 miles, intensified on Jan. 2, after the assassination of Hamas leader Saleh Al-Arouri and three of his aides in a raid that targeted the group’s office in Dahiyeh. Israel did not publicly acknowledge responsibility, but it is widely accepted that it was behind the attack.

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