Hezbollah Entering the Fight?

Since both Hamas and Hezbollah get their marching orders from Iran, this is something to keep an eye on:

2nd Front? Rockets land in Israel’s north
By MATTI FRIEDMAN
Associated Press – via etaiwannews
2009-01-08

Residents of this northern Israeli town awoke Thursday to one of their country’s worst nightmares: Rockets from Lebanon, and a possible second front in a battle that has raged for two weeks in the Gaza Strip.

No armed group claimed responsibility for the two Katyusha rockets that landed in Israel, and quiet returned to the border after a brief retaliation by Israeli artillery. But the point had been made: Israel may be tied up in an offensive aimed at halting rocket fire from Hamas in the Gaza Strip, but millions more Israelis are vulnerable to rockets from the north.

Israel now faces threats on two of its borders not from rival states but from Arab militant groups that answer to no recognized government.

Hamas rockets threaten about 1 million Israelis out of a population of 7 million, and Israel’s military believes that the rockets in the arsenal of the Lebanese group Hezbollah can hit most of the remaining 6 million.

“We’re all a bit traumatized at the moment,” said Sarit Arieli, 44, who awoke to the sound of the rocket’s impact in Nahariya and was standing outside the nursing home it hit several hours later. But she added, “I think we’re stronger than them.”

Thursday’s rockets were fired from territory under Hezbollah’s de facto control. But Hezbollah _ which ignited a devastating 2006 war that left swaths of Lebanon in ruins _ has said it does not want to drag the country into another conflict. The most likely suspects are thought to be small Palestinian factions operating in south Lebanon, who are known to possess Katyusha rockets.

The Syrian-backed Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command, for example, had warned it might open other fronts against Israel if the Gaza offensive continues.

Its officials refused to deny or confirm they were behind the rocket attack, but spokesman Anwar Raja in Syria seemed to voice support, telling the AP it was “a natural outcome … of the Israeli aggression.”

Hezbollah has been suspected in the past by Israel and its opponents in Lebanon of using such allied radical groups to irritate Israel without risking retaliation. Hezbollah had no official comment on the rocket fire Thursday, reporting it impassively on its Al-Manar TV station.

Lebanon has the most to lose from a new war, having only recently begun recovering from the ravages of the last one. In a statement Thursday, Lebanese Prime Minister Fuad Saniora said the rocket fire “is the work of parties who stand to lose from the continued stability in Lebanon.”

Hezbollah is believed not to be interested in an all-out conflict with Israel, which could damage its newfound standing as a credible player on Lebanon’s political stage. Until Thursday, at least, its leaders had been making do with fiery speeches.

Israel, too, does not appear to be eager for a second fight.

“Even though we have the ability to respond with great force, the response needs to be carefully considered and responsible,” Cabinet minister Meir Sheetrit told Army Radio. “We don’t need to play into their hands.”

Explore posts in the same categories: Hezbollah, Israel, Lebanon

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