Israelis face new border conflicts

January 13, 2011

Israel was facing possible wars on two fronts this week as Hizbollah took a step towards armed revolution in Lebanon and Egypt warned Hamas that it could soon provoke a new attack by Israel.

Meanwhile, three experts in peace negotiations have signalled in exclusive briefings for the JC that time is almost out for Israel to make a deal with the Palestinians.

In Lebanon, the resignation on Wednesday of 11 Hizbollah members, and two of its allies, from the coalition government headed by Prime Minister Saad Hariri, has created a political deadlock and could be the first step in a coup orchestrated by the Iranian-backed movement.

This comes after recent warnings from IDF Chief of Staff Lieutenant General Gabi Ashkenazi that Hizbollah has the power to take control of Lebanon and has infiltrated parts of the Lebanese army.

The mass resignation was a result of Mr Hariri's refusal to guarantee that the names of the senior Hizbollah operatives expected to be indicted for the murder of his father, former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, would be held back from a UN tribunal.

Hizbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah has warned that if members of his movement are indicted, "there will be major political changes in Lebanon", which has been perceived as a threat of war. One of the Hizbollah members, energy minister Gebran Bassil, said Hariri must choose: "Beirut or Washington."

On Wednesday night, Defence Minister Ehud Barak said that Israel was "following the situation in Beirut closely".

US President Barack Obama, who met Mr Hariri this week, urged all parties to refrain from causing further instability.

Meanwhile, the Egyptian government intervened this week in the situation around Gaza when it warned Hamas leaders that continued firing of rockets on Israeli towns and villages would cause a new attack by Israel on the Gaza Strip. Operation Cast Lead in Gaza ended exactly two years ago next week.

The Egyptian warning came after a month in which Palestinian organisations launched over 40 missiles and mortar rounds at Israeli targets.

In retaliation, dozens of Hamas targets were attacked in nightly raids by the Israeli Air Force. On Tuesday, an Islamic Jihad operative who was preparing a terror attack in Israel was killed in an air attack, according to an IDF spokesman.

Last updated: 1:01pm, January 13 2011