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In the past few weeks, tensions have once more been raised between Israel and radical Shi’a Lebanese group Hezbollah, and there is a fear that the latest drone strikes and allegations of missile production could lead to a war between the two sides.
The hostility between Hezbollah, the radical Shi’a Muslim group labeled by the United States as a foreign terrorist organization since October 1997, and Israel, did not begin with recent attacks. Indeed, this enmity reached its nadir had in 2006, when both sides fought a 34-day war that resulted in around 2,000 deaths.
Last Monday, Lebanon´s Hezbollah downed an Israeli drone in a southern town called Ramyah. The Shi’a group announced the possession of the Israeli drone, who they “confronted” with “appropriate weapons” as it was heading to Ramyah. However, Israeli officials denied that Hezbollah shot down the drone, and said the UAV fell while doing reconnaissance operations, according to The Jerusalem Post.
This was not the first drone intercepted in Hezbollah´s territory.
On August 25th, an Israeli drone fell onto the roof of the building that houses Hezbollah´s media office is in Lebanon´s capital, Beirut. Moments later, another drone which appeared to search for the first drone, exploded in the air and crashed nearby, causing material damage, according to Hezbollah´s spokesman, Mohammed Afif.
Lebanon´s President Michel Aoun declared this episode at the country´s capital as a “declaration of war” from Israel. He said on comments released by his office, “What happened was similar to a declaration of war, which allows us to resort to our right to defending our sovereignty,” according to AP News.
After the first Israeli drone intercepted in August on a territory where Hezbollah´s groups are situated, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah declared that his group would shoot down any Israeli drone that entered Lebanese airspace. So far, they have done as stated, to every Israeli drone that has accessed the Lebanese territory.
Israel claimed the use of high-technology surveillance was to counter Hezbollah´s program for manufacturing precision-guided missiles, and their digging of cross-border tunnels to northern Israel. One of the tunnels, discovered in January by Israel Defense Forces (IDF), is one km away from the location where the drone was allegedly shot down in Beirut, by the Hezbollah group. This tunnel was the largest and most strategic one, built by the group to perpetrate terrorist attacks in upcoming wars with Israel.
A few days after Israel and Hezbollah exchanged fire for the first time in years, Nasrallah denied that they “have factories to produce precision-guided missiles in Lebanon,” according to AP News.
Since the Second Lebanon War in 2006, no fighting has occurred between the two groups and the tensions were calm to some extent, until this latest raid.
Early in July, Israeli warplanes attacked multiple military spaces overnight in Syria, killing many fighters and civilians, including two Hezbollah members. It appeared to be a plan from Israel to avoid the infiltration of the Iranian military in Syria, and stop the transfer of weapons to Lebanon.
Hezbollah launched anti-tank missiles at an Israeli armored vehicle near the border, causing no fatalities. In response to this attack, Israel sent artillery fire into the southern part of Lebanon. Hezbollah said that this attack avenged the Israeli airstrike near Damascus, where two Hezbollah members were killed.
As stated in The Independent, “The current round of fighting will fizzle out, but what remains uncertain is how far Israel is willing to go to strike at Hezbollah’s missile systems.” It appears after Israel published three names of people in charge of Hezbollah´s alleged precise-missile program, that the country intends to take more action against Lebanon.
The fear of war increases as both Israel and Hezbollah continue to direct small attacks at each other that have anger, tension and a desire for revenge. There is hope that the idea of experiencing another war like The Second Lebanon War of 2006 would stop the idea of future conflict.