Biden administration pressuring Israel not to escalate with Hezbollah

Although the terror group has been testing the border with several attacks, the U.S. is concerned about widening the conflict.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

The White House is quietly telling Israel not to escalate with Hezbollah while confronting Hamas, due to its potential to dangerously widen the conflict, U.S. officials told The Times of Israel Thursday.

The sources said that Washington realizes that Israel cannot simply sit on its hands as the Iranian proxy terror group keeps testing the northern border with limited attacks, both on the ground and through rocket fire aimed at Israeli towns, in support of its Gazan colleagues. But the chief concern for the Americans is that too harsh a response could set off a much bigger war.

Two American aircraft carrier groups are now in the eastern Mediterranean specifically to deter Iran from either attacking Israel directly or ordering its terror proxies, chiefly Hezbollah in Lebanon, to do so.

U.S. officials from President Joe Biden down have publicly warned them to stay out, and sent urgent messages to Tehran through Arab countries such as Qatar, which has good relations with both the U.S. and Iran.

National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby told reporters Wednesday that while there was “no intention to put US boots on the ground in combat,” the country has its “national security interests” and “we’ll protect them if we need to.”

President Joe Biden has said repeatedly that America “has Israel’s back” since the Jewish state declared war on Hamas on October 7 after its fighters murdered 1,400 men, women, children and babies in the Gaza envelope in a surprise attack. The U.S. is already replenishing Israel’s munition supplies and has promised more Iron Dome missile interceptors, as Hamas continues to launch thousands of its rockets at the south and middle of the country, including Tel Aviv.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken was just in the region making a tour of Arab countries after a solidarity visit to Israel, to encourage their leaders to use their influence in deterring Iran and its proxies from joining Hamas’ side as they have threatened to do.

Biden himself, who was in Israel Wednesday to express his  support for the Jewish state, was supposed to then meet in Jordan with King Abdullah, Egypt’s Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to ask that they help contain the conflict. Abdullah canceled the mini-summit after Hamas spread a false report Tuesday that Israel had bombed a Gazan hospital.

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Hezbollah is publicly keeping up a very aggressive verbal front in threatening Israel, along with its growing number of attacks. Ahmed Abdul-Hadi, the head of Hamas’ political bureau in Beirut, told Politico in an interview that the two groups were “in full cooperation,” with Hezbollah now “geared for a major war” in the north.

“Hezbollah will pay no attention to threats from anyone against it entering the war; it will ignore warnings to stay out of it,” he stated. “The timing of when Hezbollah wants to enter the war or not will relate to Israeli escalation and incidents on the ground, and especially if Israel tries to enter Gaza on the ground,” he said.

A ground invasion is expected any day, as the IDF has stationed hundreds of thousands of troops in the border area as well as armored columns. However, IDF spokesman Lt. Col. Richard Hecht has said that it may not be what it looks like.

“We are preparing for the next stages of war,” he told reporters Tuesday. “We haven’t said what they will be. Everybody’s talking about the ground offensive. It might be something different.”