Fears mount over Israel incursion into Lebanon as hostilities intensify on border

Smoke rises following an Israel military bombardment in southern Lebanon. Credit: AP

Concerns are mounting that Israel is is planning a ground incursion into Lebanon that could be launched in the late spring or early summer, US officials said.

While details of an invasion have not been made public intelligence officials told CNN that the prospect has of the operation has made its way onto briefings for senior administration officials.

“We are operating in the assumption that an Israeli military operation is in the coming months,” one senior official from Joe Biden's administration said.

“Not necessarily imminently in the next few weeks but perhaps later this spring. An Israeli military operation is a distinct possibility,” they added.

There have been months of daily cross-border strikes by both Israel and Lebanon's Hezbollah that have displaced tens of thousands of Lebanese and Israeli residents from their homes.

Israel has fired artillery and launched jets and drones to strike targets while Hezbollah has used some of its vast arsenal of rockets and missiles.

“I think what Israel is doing is they are raising this threat in the hope that there will be a negotiated agreement,” said the senior official, who has heard differing opinions within the Israeli government about the need to go into Lebanon.

Black smoke and flames rise from a burning warehouse, attacked by Israeli strikes, at an industrial district, in Lebanon. Credit: AP

“Some Israeli officials suggest that it is more of an effort at creating a threat that they can utilise. Others speak of it more as a military necessity that’s going to happen.” A second senior Biden administration official said there are elements inside the Israeli government and military in favor of an incursion.

There’s “a growing group that says: ‘Hey, let’s just take a shot. Let’s just do it,’” the senior official said, adding that any incursion could lead to a “major, major escalation that we don’t even know the proportions of”.

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