Israeli Army Mulls Return to Routine Operations on Northern Border After Beirut Disaster

Defense officials estimate that Hezbollah is now much less able or willing to do anything that could draw the two sides into violence

Yaniv Kubovich
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An IDF tank unit near the border with Lebanon, July 2020.
An IDF tank unit near the border with Lebanon, July 2020.Credit: AFP
Yaniv Kubovich

The likelihood of Hezbollah making a move that would escalate the tensions in the north has dropped significantly because of Tuesday’s massive explosion in Beirut, defense officials believe.

On Wednesday the Israel Defense Forces and defense officials met to assess the impact of the developments in Lebanon, after the army had raised its level of readiness following tensions on the northern border.

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The assessment was that now Hezbollah is much less able or willing to do anything that could draw the two sides into violence.

At this stage, it was decided not to reduce the IDF’s deployment in the north, but there will be another assessment Thursday as to whether there can be a gradual return to routine operations along the northern border.

The killing of a Hezbollah official in Syria last month, in a strike near Damascus that the group attributed to Israel, led the IDF to close roads and send troop reinforcements northward, in anticipation that the group would retaliate.

Tuesday’s explosion in the port of Beirut, in which more than a hundred people were killed and thousands were injured, occurred in a warehouse where a large reservoir of ammonium nitrate was stored, allegedly negligently. An investigation into the circumstances of the explosion ruled out the possibility that it resulted from a deliberate sabotage, and Israel was quick to clarify that it was not related to the incident.

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