Israel’s conflict with its neighbors Lebanon and Syria and the Palestinians is decades old. However, the situation is currently more explosive than it has been for a long time. Israel’s enemies are working ever more closely together.

Deadly attacks in Tel Aviv and the West Bank follow rockets from Syria – before that there was the worst rocket attack from Lebanon in a decade and a half. Israel’s air force struck back in neighboring countries to the north as well as in the Gaza Strip. Israel holds the ruling Hamas responsible for the attacks from Lebanon.

Beware of conflict on multiple fronts

The Jewish state with its more than nine million inhabitants is currently confronted with a whole series of trouble spots: in the north, Lebanon and Syria, where Hezbollah and other pro-Iranian militias exercise great military influence, in the south, the Islamist Hamas organization, which controlled Gaza Strip. In addition, militant Palestinians in the occupied West Bank repeatedly carry out attacks.

The political expert Kobi Michael sees parts of the Arab minority in Israel, many of whom identify as Palestinians, as another “internal front”. The professor sees signs of greater involvement in attacks – the perpetrator of the recent attack in Tel Aviv, where an Italian tourist was killed and seven holidaymakers injured, came from an Arab town in Israel.

The worst nightmare would be a conflict where you are faced with several or even all opponents at the same time. There was a foretaste in May 2021, when confrontations between Jews and Arabs also broke out in Israel during a conflict with Hamas in the Gaza Strip. Iran is still the most dangerous opponent for the country, which turns 75 this year. Israel’s existence is threatened by its nuclear program.

Hamas and Iran pull the strings

Political expert Michael believes that Israel’s enemies are more closely coordinated. Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah met a senior Hamas delegation in Beirut to discuss more cooperation. Iran, as its most influential opponent, wants to prevent an attack on its nuclear facilities, says Michael. Tehran had “built up active fronts against Israel in the region within a decade”. Hamas’ goal is to take control of the entire Palestinian system – and also to replace President Mahmoud Abbas’ ailing autonomy authority in the West Bank.

Temple Mount as a trigger

The most recent confrontations were triggered by clashes on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem’s old town, which Muslims worship as Al-Haram al-Sharif. The place is also sacred to Jews because there used to be two Jewish temples there. You can visit the facility, but you cannot pray there. Several far-right members of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s new right-wing religious government are fueling Palestinian concerns that Israel is trying to gain more influence. Israel, on the other hand, accuses Hamas of seeking confrontation during the fasting month of Ramadan. “The idea is to escalate and heat up all fronts,” says Michael.

Palestinian frustration as fuel for attacks

Most Palestinian assassins are no longer associated with specific groups such as Hamas or Islamic Jihad. “The young generation is very frustrated and has no hope.” She wants to shake off the Israeli occupation, but also the Palestinian Authority, which she sees as a collaborator. In some places there is strong support for armed resistance. According to the Palestinian Ministry of Health, 92 Palestinians have been killed by the Israeli army or in attacks since the beginning of the year.

Internal crisis in Israel as a sign of weakness?

Israel’s internal crisis since Netanyahu’s new government took office just over 100 days ago has not gone unnoticed by opponents either. An Israeli journalist wrote: “Our enemies sense weakness.” However, Michael says Hezbollah mistakenly believes “that the demonstrations and protests are a sign that Israel’s power of resistance is at an end and the right time has come to attack on all fronts to hasten the collapse of the Zionist project”.

Not interested in regional war

Nevertheless, none of the actors is currently interested in a new open war. Israel chose to only target Hamas after the rocket attacks from Lebanon – although everyone knows that nothing happens in southern Lebanon without Hezbollah’s knowledge and approval, Michael said. The UN peacekeeping mission Unifil said in an official statement: “Both sides have said that they do not want war.”

Lebanon has been without a president for months, and the caretaker government has had only limited ability to act. The country is also in an economic crisis and would have no resources to wage war. Experts see this as the main reason for Hezbollah’s extensive restraint. She therefore fears losing many supporters in the event of war.

Michael also warns against underestimating Israel – despite the mass protests against Netanyahu’s government and its problems. “Should we find ourselves in a war with Hamas and Hezbollah, there would be no problem with Israeli resilience.” And the political scientist adds: It would be “a completely different war than those that Hamas and Hezbollah have known up to now.”