Will Israel launch a military operation to clear Hezbollah from its northern border? Or is the war there already under way?
"We see a steady escalation in terms of the range and variety of munitions being launched by Hezbollah at Israel," Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus, international spokesman of the Israel Defense Forces, told a group of foreign journalists at a briefing in northern Israel on Dec. 18. "We can do the same, if we need to, against Hezbollah that we are doing against Hamas in the south. This may be the scenario that we will need to implement."
The briefing took place at a deserted kibbutz called Rosh Hanikra. Only yards from the border with Lebanon, it once was a flourishing community of 1,400 people but was evacuated, along with 27 other communities, in the days following Hamas's massacre on Oct. 7. Israel has withdrawn its civilian population 2.5 miles south from its border with Lebanon, obliging 86,000 people to leave their homes. The residents of these border communities have become refugees in their own country.
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Jonathan Spyer is director of research at the Middle East Forum and director of the Middle East Center for Reporting and Analysis. He is author of Days of the Fall: A Reporter's Journey in the Syria and Iraq Wars (2018).