The Israeli Defense Minister threatened to launch a war in Lebanon that would resemble the military operations in Gaza. Israeli forces have waged a brutal assault and blockade of the enclave. Tel Aviv’s bombing has killed over 11,000 Palestinian civilians, including 4,000 children. The White House is concerned that if Israel goes to war in Lebanon, it will provoke a wider conflict involving the US.
At the start of this week, Israeli Defense Minister, Yoav Gallant, said, "What we are doing in Gaza, we can do in Beirut." After Tel Aviv began military operations in Gaza last month, Hezbollah and the Israeli military began exchanging fire along the border. Scores of people have been killed, including soldiers and civilians on each side. An Israeli strike caused the death of a Lebanese journalist.
Gallant threat to model operations in Lebanon after those in Gaza is concerning due to the brutality of the Israeli campaign. In addition to the documented death toll, thousands more believed dead under the rubble. Israeli forces have also laid siege to hospitals and bombed other shelters housing displaced Palestinians.
Tel Aviv has caused a massive humanitarian catastrophe for the 2.3 million residents of the strip. Israel cut fuel, water, food, and medical aid to the enclave. Tel Aviv has refused requests from Western nations to bring aid directly from Israel into Gaza. Tel Aviv is enforcing a tedious inspection regime of all aid trucks entering Gaza through the Egyptian crossing, causing delays.
Several Israeli officials have boasted that the operations in Gaza amount to an ethnic cleansing campaign. Agriculture Minister Avi Dichter said:
"It is first and almost an operational event. We have a huge number of fighters of our own that have to operate in a densely populated area. We need to reduce the number of residents." He continued, "This is going to result in some sort of Nakba. [This is] a Gaza Nakba 2023, that’s how it’ll end."
In Washington, officials are concerned that Tel Aviv will drag the US into a conflict in Lebanon. Axios reported Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin "expressed concern" to Gallant fighting on the Israel-Lebanon border. The White House requested Austin relay the message due to "growing anxiety" that Israel’s military action is exacerbating tensions on the border.
SEE IT: CNN got an exclusive look on the ground in Gaza: 'Everything crushed'. WATCH pic.twitter.com/SP0IWgx7ro— Simon Ateba (@simonateba) November 14, 2023
While the Biden administration has expressed concerns about some of Tel Aviv’s actions in Gaza and Lebanon, Washington is refusing to condition any of the military support it provides to Israel on a reduction of civilian casualties or deescalation.