ua en ru

US intelligence predicts start of Israel-Hezbollah war - Politico

US intelligence predicts start of Israel-Hezbollah war - Politico Hezbollah militants (photo: Getty Images)

US intelligence believes that a large-scale confrontation between Israel and Hezbollah is likely to erupt in the coming weeks if Jerusalem and Hamas do not reach a ceasefire agreement in the Gaza Strip, according to Politico.

US officials are uncertain whether Israel and Hamas will agree to the ceasefire proposed by US President Joe Biden soon.

Meanwhile, the Israel Defense Forces and Hezbollah have developed battle plans and are seeking to acquire additional weaponry, according to two senior US officials familiar with the intelligence.

Both sides have publicly stated they do not want war, but American officials increasingly believe intense fighting could break out.

"The risk is higher now than at any other point in recent weeks," another senior US official said.

US intelligence offers a somewhat more conservative assessment compared to some European counterparts, who believe a war between Israel and Hezbollah could occur within days. Many have advised their citizens to leave Lebanon. Canada is also preparing to evacuate thousands of people from the country. The State Department on Thursday issued travel advisories urging US citizens to reconsider travel to Lebanon.

Two senior US officials emphasized that while the timing of a potential conflict remains unclear, Israel is moving quickly to replenish its supplies and military capabilities.

US officials relayed this information to Politico, citing intelligence that a catalyst for war - such as a major attack from either side - could occur without warning.

Failure of the peace plan

In May, US President Joe Biden outlined a peace plan for ending the conflict in the Gaza Strip.

The office of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stated that they interpret the plan as allowing Israel to continue its military operations until all its objectives are met, including the destruction of Hamas' military and leadership capabilities.

On June 11, Hamas provided mediators with its response to the ceasefire proposal in Gaza. The response included some amendments to the agreement.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken mentioned that Hamas proposed numerous changes, some of which are unrealistic. Hamas denies this and accuses Israel of rejecting the plan.

President Joe Biden does not expect the agreement to be signed soon. He stated that the proposal has not been fully approved by either Israel or Hamas.

Recently, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stated that he is only willing to agree to a partial ceasefire agreement that allows Israel to continue military operations in the Gaza Strip.

Israel's threat of an offensive in Lebanon

After the outbreak of hostilities in the Gaza Strip, Hezbollah, recognized as a terrorist organization by several countries including the European Union, has increased its shelling of Israeli territory. In response, Israel has conducted airstrikes on Hezbollah targets in Lebanon.

On June 11, Israeli aircraft carried out another such strike. Within days, Hezbollah launched over 100 rockets into Israeli territory.

On June 21-22, Israeli airstrikes targeted Hezbollah facilities in four southern Lebanese areas.

Israeli officials have threatened a military incursion into Lebanon if negotiations fail to push Hezbollah away from the border. Just days ago, the Israeli military announced approval of a plan for an incursion into Lebanon, though the US seeks to prevent cross-border attacks from escalating into full-scale war.

US representatives are attempting to find a diplomatic resolution to the conflict. This issue is expected to be discussed this week during a meeting in Washington between Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant and US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin.

According to CNN, senior US officials have assured Israel of support in case of a full-scale war with Hezbollah.

Meanwhile, Amos Hochstein, senior advisor to US President Joe Biden, stated in Beirut on Tuesday that the U.S is unlikely to help Israel defend against a broader war with Hezbollah, similar to how they assisted Israel in repelling an Iranian onslaught of rockets and drones in April. He noted the difficulty in defending against shorter-range rockets regularly launched by Hezbollah across the Israeli border.