Israel has made a coy acknowledgement that its forces are in battle with Hezbollah soldiers in Syria – or in the very least monitoring the Shiite movement.
The Israeli army's northern command is "busy" with Hezbollah in Syria, its chief, Maj.-Gen. Aviv Kochavi, has said. The Northern Command "is busy, today, with Hezbollah in Syria, and this is how it will be in the next war," he is quoted as saying in the Israeli press.
"The most prominent sphere is the change this sector has experienced and is experiencing. In our generation, under our watch, we are facing this challenge – and we must know to change," Kochavi has said, according to the Jerusalem Post daily.
Hezbollah is deeply involved in Syria's civil war, fighting alongside President Bashar Assad's forces since around the middle of 2013.
The official line of the Lebanon Shiite party, which is also engaged in fighting IS militants in the border region of Arsal, is that Sunni extremists might attempt to penetrate Shiite and Christian villages in the border regions of Lebanon.
Yet despite repeated press speculation that Russia was moving to replace Syrian president Assad, Hezbollah's chief asserted recently that his party would always support the Syrian regime.
Just recently he warned Israel that if it went ahead with plans of removing citizens in key locations in teh south of Lebanon, then Hezbollah would retaliate and do the same in northern Israel with "millions" of Israelis living there.
Recently, a number of media outlets in both Israel and Lebanon have speculated that a summer war was inevitable, certainly in the South of Lebanon – but enquiries made by An Nahar to two of the country's leading experts concluded that it was not in either parties' interest, particularly given that the last time it happened, the Israeli's underestimated Hezbollah's capacity to fight hand to hand – and ended up with a bloody nose.
Israel suffered a crushing defeat in the 34-day war against Hezbollah in 2006 that cost the lives of 1,200 people in Lebanon, mainly civilians, and 160 Israelis, mostly soldiers.
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