We are walking along the border between Israel and Lebanon.
Checkpoints are nearby. Although Israel’s focus now is on planning a possible ground attack to crush Hamas, Israel must monitor Hezbollah’s activities in the north.
Soldiers stand on the roads and check all cars that want to enter villages near the border.
The tanks are located on the loading floor of the truck train and can be quickly transported all the way to the border.
The Iranian-backed Hezbollah movement in Lebanon threatens to join the war.
– We are fully prepared and when the time is right to act, we will do it, said Naim Qassem, deputy leader of the Iranian-backed Hezbollah.
In this case, it will escalate the conflict and send it in a new, unpredictable direction.
As Israeli soldiers moved into the area along the border, residents of several towns left. They fear attacks by the Hezbollah militia.
– It has become a ghost town, says a woman in the town of Shlomi. She won’t give her name.
Usually more than 7,000 people live here. Now most of them have fled.
The other one who remained was Sima Kitcher. When NRK meets her on the street, she has just gone to the store to stock up on food and water.
-We don’t have money to buy a hotel. “That’s why we stayed here,” she says.
– are you scared?
– No, so far things have gone well, but we don’t know what will happen in the near future, she says.
Kitcher says she feels safer now that Israeli soldiers have taken control of the city.
One of them is Ari Pelta. He usually works as a surgeon.
– I volunteered. I left my family to be here. My job is not to kill people, it is to save lives. “That’s what I think I’m doing here too,” says the 50-year-old.
Several Hezbollah attacks
Surgeon Belta stands with other reserve soldiers at the entrance to Shlomi.
Some volunteered while others were conscripted. One of them is usually a flight attendant, but now she believes the only right thing is to join in defending the country against what Israel sees as a threat to its existence.
Several isolated attacks occurred here this week. Rockets were fired across the border and armed fighters crossed from Lebanon on Wednesday. Three Israeli soldiers were killed in the skirmishes. An Israeli military site was attacked by an anti-tank missile, and Hezbollah claimed responsibility.
All of this reinforces fears that the conflict may spread to the region.
On Tuesday, three Israeli soldiers were killed when they stopped a group of armed men from crossing the border.
– From the moment the attack on Gaza began, I saw signs that Hezbollah was trying to prepare. Maybe that was part of the plan. It is clear that Hezbollah and Hamas are coordinating, says Major General Eitan Dangote of the reserve force.
For several years, Dangote worked closely with the government and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, including as Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT).
He believes that Hezbollah has not yet decided the next step.
There are powerful forces preparing for escalation. But he says, in my opinion, that Hezbollah did not get the green light in the first place from Iran.
Bitter about the 2006 war
Hezbollah and Israel have a long history of conflict.
On a summer day in July 2006, 17 years ago, Hezbollah captured two Israeli soldiers. They demanded the release of Lebanese detained by Israel.
Israel interpreted all of this as a declaration of war, and invaded Lebanon with bombers and ground troops.
After 34 days, Israel and Hezbollah reached a ceasefire agreement.
165 Israelis were killed. On the Lebanese side, more than 1,000 Lebanese were killed. The war has taken a particularly heavy toll on the Lebanese civilian population.
If Hezbollah enters wholeheartedly, it will take the war to a completely different level.
The Islamic movement has a huge arsenal of rockets and missiles, capable of striking almost any part of Israel.
Many of the militia fighters have received well training after fighting in Syria alongside President Bashar al-Assad.
In response to this threat, the United States moved the world’s largest aircraft carrier closer to Israel in the Mediterranean Sea.
They want to deter Hezbollah from fully participating in the war.
However, the general believes that Israel must continue to prepare for this.
– Israel has been prepared for this for a long time, and it can use a lot of force against Hezbollah. Hezbollah has great power. They have great missile and missile capacity. But even during the war with Hezbollah, we will not divert our attention from our primary goal. He says: to destroy Hamas.
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