Fear of war with Israel in Lebanon: “People are getting ready”

Israel is not only being attacked from the Gaza Strip. There have also been clashes with armed men on its northern border with Lebanon.

There is great concern that a second front will emerge there. / Fear of war with Israel in Lebanon

In his modern, fully glazed office in the mountains above Beirut, the first thing Rabih Haber does is apologize. He had just come from an appointment with a former Lebanese president – that’s why he was late. Haber is a pollster and a man in high demand these days. What does the war between Israel and Hamas mean for the country – will the Shiite Hezbollah take part in it?

Opinion research is quite complicated in Lebanon, says Haber. The country has not had a president for a year, the government is only in office – opinions differed widely on almost every political issue. Except on one point: “Lebanon is united: we are against Israel.”

However, unity quickly ends when it comes to a possible war against Israel; many are afraid of that.

What does Hezbollah want now?

War or peace: In Lebanon, this question is not decided by surveys or by the government. “They can’t do anything,” says Haber. “They’re not the ones making the decision.”

These are the Shiite Hezbollah militia and their sponsors in Iran. After Hamas’s attack on Israel on Saturday, Hezbollah repeatedly shelled Israeli military positions on the border. However, such incidents, as they are often called in Lebanon, have occurred frequently in recent years. However, there has not been a major war since 2006. So what does Hezbollah want now?

I think that at the moment Hezbollah is waiting to see whether the Israeli army enters the Gaza Strip or not.”
Monika Borgmann-Slim

Expert: Hezbollah is in control

Monika Borgmann-Slim knows Hezbollah better than many Lebanese. The German has lived in the south of Beirut, in the core area of the Shiite militia, for more than 20 years. Her husband, the publisher and activist Lokman Slim, was brutally murdered two and a half years ago – according to all evidence by Hezbollah men. In principle, says Borgmann-Slim, the militia leadership knows exactly how far it can push the bombing on the border with Israel.

Hezbollah has this under control to a large extent, she says. “At the same time, I think that one can never rule out the possibility that something could trigger this conflagration, even if it is not wanted by both sides.”

“We’ve already reached zero point”

And what if Hezbollah actually goes to war with Lebanon? Many people believe that would be a catastrophe for the country – even without the war, things are already bad enough for the people after years of economic crisis.

Raffih, a 35-year-old salesman, says resignedly: “We’ve already reached zero – actually below it. Everything has long been broken. We have nothing left to lose – there is already no electricity, there was the big one in the port Explosion. We won’t shed any more tears over war.”

War of 2006 still present

Shehina is a doctor, she comes from Syria – unlike many Lebanese, she doesn’t react by blaming Israel. She appeals to humanity. “We’ve had enough with the wars,” she says. “Peace should reign everywhere. Even if they were Israelis, they all have families too. Nobody deserves something like that.”

As a Syrian, she knows what war means. This also applies to the Lebanese, says Monika Borgmann-Slim. Many people still have the war of 2006 fresh in their minds. After the first reports of fighting at the border, many have now packed their bags. “There were immense traffic jams from the south to Beirut. The trauma runs deep. People are standing by.”

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