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Israel vs. Hamas: Could Hezbollah, with Iran’s help, be preparing to join the fight against the Jewish state?

Editor’s note: The following column was first published in City Journal

Since Hamas’s barbaric attack on Israel, Hassan Nasrallah, the long-standing head of Hezbollah, Iran’s terrorist proxy in Lebanon and the country’s de facto ruler, has been uncharacteristically quiet. While Iran has warned that it will respond if Israel invades Gaza and kills Palestinians, no such threat has come from Nasrallah. His silence has intensified a debate among Middle East analysts about whether Hezbollah, and, more precisely, Iran plan to open a second front and escalate the conflict when Israel launches its massive ground invasion of Gaza to decapitate the leadership of Hamas and destroy its capability ever to harm Israelis again.

While Hezbollah and its Palestinian terrorist allies in Lebanon have engaged in limited clashes each day along the Israeli-Lebanese border and fired rockets at northern Israeli military targets, its units have not yet launched massive numbers of missiles and rockets at Israeli civilians and infrastructure from its arsenal of what is estimated to be substantially more than 100,000 rockets and missiles. Nor have its special forces infiltrated Israel. It has yet to call up its reserves, or evacuate the southern suburbs of Beirut, steps it would normally take to prepare for war.

“Nasrallah’s silence and the limited hostilities at the border suggest that Hezbollah—and Iran—have not yet decided how deeply to intervene in the conflict,” said Hanin Ghaddar, the author of Hezbollahland and an expert on the group at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

As the Wall Street Journal noted in an editorial Sunday, the U.S. has responded militarily to only four of 83 attacks by Iran’s proxies. Biden’s botched, humiliating withdrawal of American forces from Afghanistan further reinforced the impression among America’s enemies and rivals that the United States has tired of defending its allies and democracy abroad and lacks the political will to engage in such conflicts.

“This is an important test of the Biden administration’s resolve,” said Berkowitz. “It’s not just Israel, but America that needs to restore confidence in its deterrence capability.”

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Judith Miller, is a former Fox News contributor, is an award-winning author, an adjunct fellow at the Manhattan Institute and a contributing editor of its magazine, City Journal. She was formerly a  Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter for The New York Times. Her latest book is “The Story: A Reporter’s Journey.”

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