Saturday’s military attack by Hamas on Israeli-controlled territory is virtually unprecedented.
It could push Lebanon into a cycle of violence if Hezbollah decides to join the offensive under the banner of “unity of fronts.” Consequently, many Lebanese political figures are urging Hezbollah not to drag Lebanon into a confrontation that it can’t handle, while the party’s allies, especially the Amal Movement, don’t dismiss the potential for escalation.
Following the launch of Hamas' so-called “Al-Aqsa Flood” attack, L’Orient-Le Jour gauged responses from Lebanon’s major political players.
Hezbollah: Hezbollah issued a statement Saturday saying it was “closely following” developments on the ground and was in “direct contact with the leadership of the Palestinian resistance both domestically and abroad.” The party stopped short of affirming whether it would join the fight, amid questions over possible participation that could draw in Lebanon.
Progressive Socialist Party (PSP): Walid Joumblatt, the former leader of the PSP, told L’Orient-Le Jour Saturday was a “significant day in the fight against Israel.”
“Lebanon defined its maritime boundary with Israel about a year ago, which is not the case for Palestine. Gaza is a territory surrounded by Israelis and Arabs, and Palestinians have the right to liberate their territory and shatter the myth of Israel’s invincibility,” he stated.
When asked about the potential implications for Lebanon, Joumblatt emphasized the need to “learn from this.” On regional normalization with the Israeli government, he added: “It's time to reconsider this sham normalization. To those who believed Israel could offer them anything, I tell them that today, the opposite has been proven.”
Free Patriotic Movement (FPM): Hezbollah's Christian political ally appears to be waiting for more clarity. “This is part of the Palestinian struggle against Israel, and we support it,” Martine Najm Koteily, the Vice President of the FPM for political affairs, told L’Orient-Le Jour by phone Saturday.
Amal Movement: Hezbollah's Shiite ally did not rule out a possible escalation. “What is happening today is a significant event that has unveiled the biggest intelligence failure by Israel since its inception. We are not detached from this,” stated Mohammad Khawaja, a Beirut MP from Nabih Berri’s party.
“The resistance could potentially engage fully in the confrontation, but we're not there yet. It's up to the wise leadership of the resistance to decide,” Khawaja added.
Marada Movement: Zgharta leader and March 8 ally Sleiman Frangieh simply commended the Palestinian offensive without delving into Lebanon's role. “Strength will surely prevail over oppression,” he posted on X (formerly Twitter).
“Blessed are those resistors to whom the land belongs,” he added.
Lebanese Forces (LF): LF figures fear that Lebanon might once again be impacted by regional conflicts. “It's crucial not to embroil the Lebanese in situations they can't withstand, especially during these tough times,” party leader Samir Geagea posted on X (formerly Twitter).
“What's happening in Gaza should remain in Gaza,” LF spokesperson Charles Jabbour told L’Orient-Le Jour. “Lebanon shouldn't be dragged into regional wars,” he added, calling on the government to adopt measures to protect the country from such developments.
Kataeb: Sami Gemayel's party echoed a similar sentiment. “Beware of scenarios that could lead Lebanon into a war, especially when it's been continuously affected by regional conflicts,” warned the party spokesperson, Patrick Richa.
“The Lebanese Army and the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon [UNIFIL] should adopt proper measures at the southern border to thwart any escalation attempts,” he told L’Orient-Le Jour.
National Moderation Bloc: The bloc, which primarily consists of ex-Future Movement Sunni MPs, was also apprehensive of escalation, “given that all options are on the table and the political objectives of the operation are significant,” Walid Baarini, MP from Akkar, told L’Orient-Le Jour.
“We all support the Palestinian cause. But Lebanon can't withstand the aftermath of a military conflict with Israel,” he added.
This article was originally published in French in L'Orient-Le Jour.