Hezbollah has been ‘readying to invade Israel for YEARS’ & could spark ‘catastrophic’ war with Nato & Iran-backed rebels

HEZBOLLAH fighters are readying to storm Israel from southern Lebanon and spark a “catastrophic” war, a Middle East expert has warned.

Professor Asher Kaufman told The Sun that Israeli forces are now more focused on tackling the Iran-backed threat in Lebanon than defeating Hamas.

AFP – GettyHezbollah fighters training in the Lebanese village of Aaramta[/caption]

APHezbollah are thought to be the world’s biggest and most powerful non-state military force[/caption]

ReutersSmoke rises following attacks from Lebanon close to the Israeli border[/caption]

APBlack smoke rises from an Israeli strike on Aita al-Shaab, a Lebanese border village with Israel[/caption]

Speaking to The Sun from Jerusalem, Professor Kaufman, said: “We may be facing a situation where Hezbollah units could try and cross the border in order to take some territory from Israel, just as Israeli forces might do in Lebanon.

He told us “their elite force has been training for that possible scenario” for years.

Now it is looking increasingly likely that the risky tit-for-tat skirmishes between Hezbollah and Israel could escalate into a full blown armed conflict.

Kaufman, from the KROC Institute for International Peace Studies, investigates the border dynamics between Israel and Lebanon – where the Hezbollah militant group is based.

Israel’s Defence Forces (IDF) have been gearing up for a possible invasion by Hezbollah – and preparing to defend against one – for some time.

Kaufman explained: “The IDF in the north has been training for that possibility for years now with the knowledge that one unit of Hezbollah might cross the border and take over Israeli community settlements.

He said “the paradox is that eventually it happened in the south”, when Hamas stormed the border from Gaza on October 7 last year.

Israel is almost nine months into its bloody war with Hamas – and its feared the war could now escalate into a direct confrontation with Hezbollah in Lebanon.

The militant group is thought to have 30,000 to 50,000 fighters and between 120,000 and 200,000 missiles, rockets, attack and reconnaissance drones.

While Hezbollah’s forces may not be able to retain the Israeli land, but it marks “a very important step for any military to take over civilian territory”, Kaufman explained.

Kaufman, an expert on the Israeli invasion and occupation of Lebanon from 1982 to 2000, added: “It’s not that they would necessarily be able to hold on to this territory… but it would create dramatic retaliation on the Israeli side.”

Such a response would spark a “catastrophic” war like nothing before, he warned – with the US and Nato possibly being dragged in.

Hezbollah, an Iran-backed militant group that supports Hamas, has launched renewed attacks against Israel since war broke out in October last year.

In recent weeks exchanges of fire have grown in scale, and yesterday Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah threatened a war with “no restraint and no rules and no ceilings” if Israel launches an offensive.

In a disturbing warning he said Israel should be “scared” and told the world they had “new weapons” ready to go.

The IDF in the north has been training for that possibility for years now

Asher Kaufman

It came less than a week after Taleb Abdullah was killed in an Israeli strike – the most senior Hezbollah commander to be taken out since October.

Israeli officials say they are prepared to go to war with Hezbollah – but the country is already embroiled in a conflict where tens of thousands of people have died.

Benjamin Netanyahu’s foreign minister, Israel Katz, has promised that a decision on “all-out war” with the group is coming soon.

And in December last year, Netanyahu himself warned Beirut would be turned “into Gaza” if Hezbollah started an all-out war.

Kaufman said: “If there is a war between Israel and Hezbollah, it would be an all-out war that would involve both countries, both societies, civilians included.

“It could involve other countries such as Iran, the Houthis in Yemen, it could drag the United States in too.

“It would be really, really devastating.”

If there is a war between Israel and Hezbollah, it would be an all-out war that would involve both countries, both societies, civilians included

Asher Kaufman

Professor Kaufman told us the “big issue for Israel” right now is how they will tackle the threat posed by Iran-backed Hezbollah. 

“Hamas militarily is not as sophisticated as Hezbollah,” he said.

“The discourse here in Israel is about the need to deal with Hezbollah. That’s the big issue.

“Once Israel finishes the business with Hamas in the south, the next thing to do is to go up North and to deal with [Hezbollah].”

Professor Kaufman said “Israeli officials, military and politicians” believe it is necessary now for the IDF to move its forces up north after defeating Hamas and shore up its borders.

But he warned: “I’m not sure the IDF has the capacity to do it now.”

Israeli forces, the Middle East expert told us, are already easing up on their onslaught in Gaza.

APHezbollah fighters attend the funeral of commander Wissam al-Tawil in January[/caption]

APHezbollah fighters carry the coffin of senior commander Taleb Sami Abdullah[/caption]

AFPIsraeli soldiers near Kibbutz Ortal in the Israel-annexed Golan Heights near the Lebanon border[/caption]

APAn Israeli airstrike killed one woman and wounded several others in Adloun, Lebanon in June[/caption]

British troops may end up on the ground around the globe as conflict continues

After months of international concern about the rising death toll of Palestinians – which he says now sits at over 40,000 – the Israeli government is scaling down their military operation in the war-torn Gaza Strip.

Professor Kaufman told The Sun: “It has already been happening for months now, but there are still significant forces in Gaza.

The talk now among the security circle in Israel is that these limited forces in Gaza need to be mobilised to the north in order to deal with Hezbollah.

“You can see a slight decline in the number of Palestinian casualties because of the decrease in the military presence.

Israel and Hezbollah will not protect civilians on the other side. Israel will target civilians, Hezbollah will target civilians

Asher Kaufman

“We are still talking about… over 40,000 Palestinian deaths. But in recent weeks there is a slight decline in the number of deaths because the military operations of the IDF have changed.”

Professor Kaufman warned civilian casualties in Lebanon could also hit enormous numbers.

After more than eight months of war between Israel and Hamas, the Gaza Strip health ministry says over 37,000 Palestinians have been killed.

Hamas terrorists killed around 1,200 Israelis when they stormed the border on October 7 2023.

Professor Kaufman said: “We don’t know if there’s going to be a war, it’s all on the table. It’s still in the realm of possibility.

“We can assume that if there is a war between Israel and Hezbollah, then you would see massive casualties on both sides of the border in Lebanon and in Israel.

“Israel and Hezbollah will not protect civilians on the other side. Israel will target civilians, Hezbollah will target civilians if there is a war.

“It would be a devastating war that we have not seen before.”

The consequences for Israel to go to war again – killing civilians in order to destroy Hezbollah – would be devastating, the professor warned.

He said “It would be catastrophic for them [Israel] as a country and a government.”

It would be catastrophic for them [Israel] as a country and a government

Asher Kaufman

And the Middle East expert told us that “Hezbollah will not protect civilians either” – adding “they would target Tel Aviv, the urban half of Israel”.

Such a war would not only drag in civilians in Israel and Lebanon, but possibly other countries and threat actors, he warned.

This could include Iran and its proxies – such as the Houthis in Yemen.

But the US could also be dragged in – suggesting more Nato nations might end up involved.

Hopes of preventing such a deadly conflict now rely on diplomatic negotiations between the two.

Amos Hochstein, top diplomatic adviser to US president Biden, is currently in Israel and soon set to fly to Lebanon to try and broker some peace between them.

Professor Kaufman said: “The scenario is very clear. Hezbollah has been saying that they will stop firing rockets at Israel once a ceasefire in Gaza is agreed upon.

“So that is a possibility. But [war] still might happen, because sometimes these dynamics get out of hand, you don’t know how things could unfold.”

Avraham Levine, who works at Alma Centre, an Israeli research and education hub focusing on the northern border, told The Sun the two are already at war.

He said: “We’re at war with Hezbollah.

“Since October Hezbollah has been attacking with thousands of rockets and mortars, about 200 attacks monthly attacks all across the northern front towards army bases, soldiers, civilians, communities.

“That’s why we have 43 communities evacuated, 60,000 people or a little more evacuated from the north since October.

“In the past month we saw a big increase from April to May to June, including the past week.

“With way more attacks, more accurate weapons, specifically UAVs and anti-tank missiles that are very successful in hitting targets on our side of the border.”

Levine also told The Sun civilians would be killed on both sides if Hezbollah and Israel went to war – even going as far as to say it would be worse than the devastating conflict in the south.

He said: “I think Lebanon would be a very difficult situation, in many ways worse than we saw in the South. 

“More civilians will be killed on both sides.”

The history of Israel and Iran’s relationship

TENSIONS between Israel and Iran have been simmering for years.

In 1947, Iran was among 13 countries that voted against the United Nations Partition Plan for the British Mandate of Palestine.

Two years later, Iran also voted against Israel’s admission to the United Nations.

After the 1979 Islamic Revolution, Iran severed all diplomatic and commercial ties with Israel, and its theocratic government does not recognise the legitimacy of Israel as a state.

The turn from cold peace to open hostility began in the early 1990s, shortly after the collapse of the Soviet Union and the defeat of Iraq in the Gulf War, after which relative power in the Middle East shifted to Iran and Israel.


The conflict escalated in the early 1990s, as Yitzhak Rabin’s government adopted a more aggressive posture on Iran.

Rhetorical conflict heated up during the presidency of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who made inflammatory statements against Israel.

Other factors that have contributed to the escalation of bilateral tensions include Iran’s development of nuclear technology relative to Israel’s long-stated Begin Doctrine, Iran’s funding of Islamist groups such as Hezbollah, Palestinian Islamic Jihad and Hamas, as well as alleged involvement in terrorist attacks such as the 1992 attack on Israeli embassy in Buenos Aires and the 1994 AMIA bombing, and Israel’s alleged support for militant groups such as the People’s Mujahedin of Iran and Jundallah as well as alleged covert Israeli operations in Iran including multiple assassinations and bombings.


Since 1985, Iran and Israel have been engaged in an ongoing proxy conflict that has greatly affected the geopolitics of the Middle East, and has included direct military confrontations between Iranian and Israeli organisations, such as in the 2006 Lebanon War.

The conflict has played out in various ways, including through support for opposing factions in conflicts in Syria and Yemen.

Iran has provided support to the Syrian government, while Israel has supported opposition groups.

In Yemen, Iran has provided support to the Houthi rebels, while Israel has provided support to the Saudi-led coalition fighting the rebels.

The conflict has also involved cyber attacks and sabotage against each other’s infrastructure, including attacks on nuclear facilities and oil tankers.

Overall, the Iran-Israel proxy conflict is a complex and ongoing conflict that has had a significant impact on the political and security dynamics of the Middle East.


In the Israeli–Lebanese conflict, Iran has supported Lebanese Shia militias, most notably Hezbollah. In the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Iran has backed Palestinian groups such as Hamas.

Israel has supported Iranian rebels, such as the People’s Mujahedin of Iran, conducted airstrikes against Iranian allies in Syria and assassinated Iranian nuclear scientists. In 2018 Israeli forces directly attacked Iranian forces in Syria.

Iranian Islamists have long championed the Palestinian people, whom they perceive as “oppressed”.

Scholars believe that by supporting the Palestinians, Iran seeks greater acceptance among Sunnis and Arabs, both of whom dominate the Middle East.

Ideologically, Iran seeks to replace Israel with a one-state solution and has predicted Israel’s demise. Israel sees Iran as an existential threat, and accuses its regime of harbouring genocidal intentions.

Consequently, Israel has sought sanctions and military action against Iran to stop it from acquiring nuclear weapons.

Israel is already fighting a brutal war in the Gaza Strip which has seen tens of thousands of people die

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