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“Hezbollah has tied what it’s doing to the situation in Gaza… It shouldn’t be firing to begin with, but it’s also a reality.”

– US Secretary of State Antony Blinken

Were I Lebanese, I would be terrified at the prospect of having my destiny linked with that of Gaza. One thing that is not in short supply in Beirut is problems and the tensions they bring. A collapsed economy, a broken political system and a fractured society have become emblematic of this small Levantine country. Many have still not recovered from the blast that shook Lebanon’s capital in 2020, killing hundreds and causing unthinkable damage. The last thing the people of Lebanon would ask for – to be inextricably linked to events in Gaza.

Yet, this seems to be the essence of Iranian interest, sowing regional chaos and challenging Israel on multiple fronts. In Lebanon, Iran-backed Hezbollah heeded Tehran’s call and began a confrontation with Israel as soon as Iran-backed Hamas did. This serves not only to hurt Israel, but to showcase Iran’s ever-expanding power and influence in the Middle East; Its deepening penetration of countries and societies from Gaza, Lebanon and Syria to Iraq, the Arabian Peninsula and Jordan.

Iran’s ambition is to consolidate its Mid-East influence and make concerted use of the force wielded by its proxies. This is not just a threat to regional stability. Rather, it endangers the basic sovereignty of every single country in which these proxies operate. Perhaps the greatest victim of this ambition has been, and continues to be, Lebanon itself.

Iran’s attempt is to impose on the region its own version of “Article 5” – the NATO principle of an attack on one being an attack on all. Accepting this concept as reality would be dangerous and outright destructive. However, the rhetoric heard this week from high-ranking officials in the Biden Administration points to just that.


U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken. REUTERS/Kevin Mohatt


On July 1st, Secretary of State Antony Blinken appeared at an event held by the Brookings institution in Washington. Blinken spoke on a variety of foreign policy related topics, not least the situation in the Middle East. He elaborated on the unraveling situation along the Israeli-Lebanese border, and the ongoing military confrontation between Israel and Hezbollah. This confrontation seems to be inching ever closer towards a full-scale war with each passing day.

Blinken reiterated that no side to this conflict – Israel, Hezbollah, Lebanon or Iran – is interested in a full-scale war. He mentioned Hezbollah’s narrative, tying this exchange of fire to the war started by Hamas on October 7th. While condemning Hezbollah’s firing of missiles, shells and UAVs into Israel, Blinken also acknowledged that this connection is “a reality”. He added that the same could be applied to the Houthis and other Iran-backed militias throughout the Middle East.

Blinken stressed that achieving a deal between Israel and Hamas is critical towards resolving tensions along Israel’s northern border. This thinking plays into Tehran’s agenda: tying the actions of one of its proxies to those of the others. Accepting the link between separate groups operating in different countries serves as a force multiplier for those groups. It catapults their backers in Tehran to a new level of regional hegemony, aggravating their malign actions.

Of course, the (non-)government in Beirut is not without fault. Years of poor decision-making have enabled Hezbollah to take the wheel, and effectively set Lebanon’s foreign and defense policies. The LAF, once a force to be reckoned with, are today an empty shell of their former selves. Grotesquely, Lebanon may soon face a devastating war with a country with which it has just minor border disputes. Hezbollah’s rule has subjugated an entire country to puppeteers in Tehran, much to the detriment of its people.

Indeed, an agreed upon ceasefire between Israel and Hamas might bring a temporary calm along Israel’s northern border. However, tying between the two is dangerous in the long term. It creates a precedent, which will make concerted attacks by Iran’s many proxies the norm of every conflict. Any regional confrontation will serve as an excuse and calling for Tehran’s other puppets to join in. A resurgence of Syria’s civil war will mean more Houthi attacks in the Red Sea. A renewed war between Saudi Arabia and the Houthis will mean renewed fire between Israel and Hezbollah. Every war will become a seven-front war.

As Israel continues fighting on multiple fronts, I would concede that the beginnings of these confrontations are undeniably linked. However, we must not play to the narrative that the resolution of these conflicts must also be packaged together. The people of Lebanon have suffered unimaginably throughout the years as a result of Hezbollah’s actions. The last thing they would want is to be held liable for the crimes of Hamas.


Elad Israeli is EMET’s Director of Research, and Legislative Affairs Associate.

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About the Author

Elad Israeli
Elad Israeli is EMET’s Director of Research, and Legislative Affairs Associate. Prior to EMET, Elad served as a Congressional Affairs Officer at the Embassy of Israel in Washington, DC, where he specialized in a portfolio that covers foreign affairs legislation with regard to Israel and the wider Middle East. Born in Israel and raised in both Israel and the United States, Elad served in various intelligence positions within the Israeli Defense Forces between 2011-2020. A graduate of Tel Aviv University, with a BA in History of the Middle East and Political Science, and a Master’s in Diplomacy Studies, Elad is fluent in Hebrew and has high proficiency in Arabic.

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