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'Balance of terror' sustains tense calm between Hezbollah and Israel

On the fifth anniversary of the 2006 war between Israel and the Lebanese Shiite group Hezbollah, the border remains calm as both sides worry about the scale of devastation a new war would bring.

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As Lebanon’s militant Shiite group Hezbollah and the Israeli army prepare to mark the fifth anniversary of the 2006 war on Tuesday, the tense calm along the traditionally volatile Lebanon-Israel border is being tested by recent regional developments.

Still, analysts say, the calm should hold for now. The durability of the “balance of terror” that has helped deter another conflict is rooted in the reluctance of Hezbollah and Israel to embark upon another conflict that both appreciate will be of a far greater magnitude than that of 2006.

“Despite all the rhetoric, I think the calm will prevail. Both sides cannot afford to start another war. The next one will be a major war with extreme destructiveness,” says Timur Goksel, a lecturer on conflict resolution in Beirut and former long-serving official with the United Nations peacekeeping force in south Lebanon.

That view from Beirut is echoed in Tel Aviv, underlining the awareness on either side of the border of the terrible consequences for both countries if another war should occur.

“We’ve never witnessed such a quiet border since the 1960s. No doubt about it,” says Eyal Zisser, a political science professor at Tel Aviv University. Israel and Hezbollah “are both committed to doing what they can to prevent a new round of violence.”


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