Israeli soldiers search for rockets fired from Lebanon after they landed in northern Israel, on Dec. 20, 2015. (Xinhua File photo)
BEIRUT, Feb. 29 (Xinhua) -- Lebanese political analysts are divided on the possibility of Israel waging a war against Lebanon after the recent discovery of tunnels extending from Lebanon to northern Israel and the formation of a new government in Lebanon.
Hilal Khashan, chair of the Political Studies Department at the American University of Beirut, believes Israel is unlikely to attack Hezbollah in Lebanon for the moment.
"The Americans did not give Israel the green light to attack Lebanon," Khashan told Xinhua.
A few days ago, the U.S. government voiced its concerns about Hezbollah's participation in the new cabinet in Lebanon.
A U.S. official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to Lebanese daily newspaper Al Joumhouria, said the United States is worried about the role of Hezbollah in the new cabinet, especially the fact that the group dominates the Health Ministry which has the country's biggest budget.
However, according to Khashan, Hezbollah did not appoint the health minister in order to avoid the negative repercussions of such a move from the West.
Hezbollah will also try its best to maintain the conflicts with Israel within the Syrian territory, Khashan noted.
"I do not think Hezbollah will attack Israel from Lebanon. This will be a major escalation that Lebanese people cannot tolerate," he said.
In fact, the Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah declared recently that his group will not start a war with Israel, but will defend itself with all its power if Israel attacks Lebanon first.
Nevertheless, Khashan did not completely rule out the possibility of an Israeli war against Lebanon.
On Dec. 4, the Israeli army launched the Northern Shield operation to "locate and thwart" the tunnels allegedly dug by Hezbollah from Lebanon to northern Israel.
Since then, the Israelis have been talking frequently about Hezbollah's threats against Israeli sovereignty and Iran's control of Lebanese policies, as Iran has been a long-time ally of Hezbollah.
Israel's statements concerning Hezbollah have become so "tough" that no one can predict what the Israelis want to do, Khashan said.
The Israelis are no longer trying to cover up their attacks on Hezbollah and Iranian targets in Syria, signalling no fear of escalation in the region, he added.
If the Iranians publicly oppose the Israeli statements and threaten the Israelis, "things can get out of control," Khashan said, adding that Israel may be waiting for Iran to make such a move as an excuse to go for a war in Syria and Lebanon.
Meanwhile, Sami Nader, director of Levant Institute for Strategic Affairs in Lebanon, believes an Israeli war against Lebanon may not be imminent or unavoidable because both Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the Iranians want to avoid risks.
However, Nader said the likelihood of an Israeli strike against Iranian positions in Lebanon and Syria has increased.
"Iran is building up its missile infrastructure in Syria, Lebanon and Iraq, because the tension between Iran and Israel has increased especially after the withdrawal of the United States from the 2015 nuclear agreement," Nader said.
Meanwhile, the U.S. stance on Iran has also been "tougher and stronger," he stressed.
"We heard U.S. President Donald Trump say a few days ago ... that Iran is a radical country and is leading terrorism on the international scene," he said.
Moreover, Nader explained that Russia would be happy if Israel attacks Iran because Russia has an interest in seeing the reduction, if not the elimination, of Iran's presence in Syria.
"The Russians do not want the collapse of Iran in Syria but they want it to be weakened for them to remain the major stakeholder in Syria," the Lebanese expert noted.
This is why every time Iranian bases are targeted, Russia either remains silent or issues routine and indifferent statements, he added.
Samir Hassan, a senior researcher in military affairs, said if Israel's attacks on Iranian and Hezbollah targets increase to the extent that causes "real harm," a war may break out.
Hassan explained that real harm means any attacks that would threaten Iran's existence.
"Also, if Israel hits strategic logistic corridors of Hezbollah or any of their mobilization sites, the party will hit back," said Hassan.