Israel Closely Watching Lebanon Gov't Collapse

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Israel is closely monitoring the government collapse in Lebanon, which some fear could lead to more violence.

The Iranian-backed terrorist group Hezbollah orchestrated the collapse, and has tried to escape trouble in the past by shifting the focus to Israel.

With the collapse in Lebanon, some speculate the group could turn attention back to a confrontation with Israel.

But Middle East expert Jonathan Spyer said the price could be too high to start a war now, even with expected action from the United Nations.

"It's a card that they have, but they'll think a long time before playing it," Spyer said.

On a highly provocative visit to Lebanon in October, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad traveled to a Hezbollah stronghold just two miles from the Israeli border.

He told thousands of supporters there that the Zionists would not last long, and should surrender and go back to where they came from.

"Over 150 Shiite villages and others in south Lebanon are being turned slowly, gradually, but surely into Hezbollah military camps," Israeli army spokeswoman Avital Leibowitz said.

In 2006, Hezbollah launched nearly 4,000 rockets at Israel, and the military response drove terror leader Hassan Nasrallah into hiding.

But his absence hasn't stopped his followers from rebuilding the weapons stockpile by thousands of rockets, and moving most of them toward the Israeli border.

Leibowitz said their tactics have changed and they've gone underground.

"They have inside warehouses, a very big number of warehouses filled with rockets, and missiles of all sort of ranges," Leibowitz said.

Spyer added that the next war will likely be much worse for both sides.

"What we can say is that the Islamic Republic of Iran, and therefore it's client Hezbollah... is right now on a collision course effectively with the state of Israel," he said.

It's unclear when a war between Israel and Hezbollah will happen, but as Spyer noted, in the Middle East if war looks likely to happen, it usually does.

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Julie Stahl

Julie Stahl

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