Stoking the fires of regional war

Israel is trying to trigger a wider conflict to bring in the US

Israel’s assassination of Hamas deputy leader Saleh al-Arouri in a drone strike in Beirut on Tuesday evening, coming just days after it killed Iranian general Reza Mousavi in Damascus and amid its ongoing war of extermination on the Gaza Strip, came as a huge shock to Hamas, its Lebanese hosts Hezbollah, and the Axis of resistance generally.

It amounted to a declaration of war on Lebanon and the Lebanese resistance in the south of the country, and a massive provocation to Hezbollah leader Hasan Nasrallah, who had repeatedly threatened punitive retaliation to any Israeli attempt to assassinate any Hezbollah or Palestinian leaders in Lebanon.

The attack seemed calculated to undermine Lebanon’s security and stability and lure the resistance into an all-out confrontation with Israel as it faces humiliating setbacks on multiple internal and external fronts: most notably the Galilee front in northern occupied Palestine as well as the Gaza and Red Sea fronts and against US bases in Iraq.

The Israeli army partially withdrew from parts of northern Gaza Strip because of the heavy losses it was taking, and also maybe to deploy against South Lebanon from where missile and drone attacks have been escalating for the past three months, leading to the evacuation of hundreds of thousands of Israeli settlers from northern Palestine.

Israeli media had indicated that the next stage in the assault on Gaza will include a campaign of assassinations targeting Hamas and Islamic Jihad leaders both inside occupied Palestine and abroad. Arouri is said to have ranked third on the Israeli hit-list, preceded by Hamas’ leader in Gaza Yahya al-Sinwar and Islamic Jihad secretary-general Ziad al-Nakhaleh.

Arouri confounded the Israelis by providing the armed resistance in the West Bank with arms, training, and funding, enabling it to escalate and shake the security and stability of the occupation. He coordinated with Islamic Jihad’s cadres and Fateh’s al-Aqsa Brigades in the West Bank, creating a fireball of resistance that rolled from one town to another, scorching the soldiers and settlers that stood in its way, and helping the resistance fighters in Gaza by unsettling the enemy and dissipating its forces.The martyrdom of Arouri and the five comrades killed alongside him will not weaken Hamas but strengthen its resilience and resolve. It reflected the occupation’s weakness, defeat, and dejection, and was a failed attempt to divert attention away from that reality. The assassination of top Hamas figures in the past (from its founder Sheikh Ahmad Yasin to Abdelaziz al-Rantisi, Salah Shehadeh, and Yahya Ayyash) has only led to the movement becoming stronger, broader-based, and better armed — culminating in the unprecedented victory of 7 October.

Israel will pay a high price for this latest crime, whether in the occupied territories or on the other resistance fronts in South Lebanon, the Red Sea, or Iraq. It may find itself engulfed in an expanded regional war against adversaries who have been preparing for such a day.

The Biden administration, which supported and continues to support Israel’s massacres in the Gaza Strip, has been making great efforts to avoid the war expanding and especially extending to the Lebanese front. It’s Israeli proteges rewarded those efforts by carrying out a criminal operation that could trigger a major regional war. Nothing will be the US’ undoing more than Israel’s massacres and wars.

Nasrallah affirmed in his speech on Wednesday that there would be retaliation and punishment for Arouri’s murder, but did not elaborate. He charged Israel was trying to spark a wider war in order to bring the US in directly on its side, and warned of a no-holds-barred response if it were to attack Lebanon.

The drone strike that killed Arouri and several of his aides, some of them Lebanese, on Lebanese soil was itself an attack on Lebanon and its sovereignty and honour. All Lebanese should support Hezbollah’s retaliation when it comes.

When it does, it could trigger a war that spells the end of the racist colonial Zionist project. If tiny and besieged Gaza can valiantly hold out for three months and teach Israel lessons it will never forget, how would things be if the war were joined by Hezbollah’s missies and drones and thousands of formidable fighters?

Stoking the fires of regional war

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