Conflict Crisis Management Israel Lebanon Middle East Security & Defense
In-Depth Research & Reports May 13, 2020

Counting the cost: Avoiding another war between Israel and Hezbollah

By Nicholas Blanford and Assaf Orion

Almost fourteen years since the 2006 war, Hezbollah and Israel seem to be drifting closer to war than at any time in the last decade. Even as Lebanon and Israel grapple with the COVID-19 pandemic, neither the Israeli military nor Lebanon’s Iran-backed Hezbollah are allowing the disease to distract from their long-running enmity. With the military buildup on both sides, the mutual destruction would be far reaching.

Given the risks at hand, the Atlantic Council has released a new report, “Counting the Cost: Avoiding Another War between Israel and Hezbollah,” authored by Nicholas Blanford, a Beirut-based nonresident senior fellow in the Atlantic Council’s Middle East programs, and Brig. Gen. (Res.) Assaf Orion, senior research fellow at the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv.

The authors examine the current force posture of the Israel Defense Forces and Hezbollah, identify potential triggers that could lead to a war, analyze how the next war would be fought by both sides, and offer recommendations to at least maintain the current relative calm and avoid a conflict that could cost thousands of lives and bring unprecedented ruin to both Lebanon and Israel.

For more analysis, watch the virtual discussion of this report. The panel featured the authors, Dr. Mara Karlin, director of Strategic Studies at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, and Dion Nissenbaum, Beirut-based reporter at the Wall Street Journal.

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Through our Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East and Scowcroft Middle East Security Initiative, the Atlantic Council works with allies and partners in Europe and the wider Middle East to protect US interests, build peace and security, and unlock the human potential of the region.

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Image: Aitta Shaab village in south Lebanon on August 14, 2006, the day of the ceasefire that ended the 2006 war. Most of the village was destroyed after 34 days relentless fighting. Although it lies less than a mile from the border, the IDF was unable to fully seize the village. A future war between Israel and Hezbollah promises to produce this level of damage but on a far larger scale. Photo credit: Nicholas Blanford.