There is no Lebanese political figure who can question Hamas about launching missiles from Lebanese territory currently. Apart from issuing a statement from Lebanon announcing its missile launch, Hamas had previously held a press conference in Beirut, which it hadn’t done in Ramallah or the West Bank, not to mention any neighboring countries like Jordan and Egypt… or even Syria.
Lebanon shares borders with a formidable and deadly “enemy,” but is simultaneously embroiled in an economic crisis that has affected all aspects of life. Life in Lebanon is emotionally charged, and becomes more so with the current Palestinian plight in Gaza. And now, with no president in place, the Lebanese are faced with thinking about the odds of entering a war which everyone agrees would be catastrophic on all levels. The decision to participate in the war requires at least a discussion and contemplation of its possibilities.
When observing Israel’s readiness for mass killings in Gaza and the world’s diminishing sensitivity toward the Palestinian victims, the question of the empty presidential seat takes center stage. The decision for Lebanon to join the fighting does not include Lebanon and what Hamas is doing on the Lebanese borders exposes this truth. In parallel, Hezbollah is calculating its confrontations based on the equation of the internal division in Lebanon regarding its weapons, while Hamas is advancing its position, portraying itself as less committed to these calculations.
Lebanon does not have a president, with its weak caretaker government and prime minister trapped in a silence-for-corruption equation and its military and security agencies without funding for years now. It is merely an arena where decisions are made by Iran, but it awaits a war with destruction that no country can handle.
The decision for Lebanon to join the fighting does not include Lebanon. What Hamas is doing on the Lebanese borders exposes this truth.
Perhaps the Iranian decision to open the front in southern Lebanon will not help the Axis hinder the American and Israeli thrust, especially as Netanyahu faces a dilemma about what comes after the invasion of Gaza. Opening new fronts may provide an opportunity for direct US involvement in the war. The results of the ground invasion are starting to pose a burden with questions arising about the likely high costs.
However, this doesn’t absolve us from the question on Lebanon. Israel is a fierce and bloodthirsty neighbor, and this presidential vacuum exposes us to possibilities of even more death. Additionally, we are amidst a collapse that makes relief impossible.
Here, we must return to the core issue within the presidential vacuum and ask ourselves a vital question: Is Lebanon deserving of being a country at a time when we are at this level of danger and on the brink of death, unable to produce a political class capable of dealing with such high levels of danger?
We must ask the question about Palestine as well because Palestinian people in Lebanon have had their fair share of harrowing experiences, and adding to their challenges with more tension in their relationship with the country that hosts them is not needed. It should be noted that opening the southern front would be part of Iran’s calculations if the decision is made, and it is not part of Palestinian or even Hamas’s calculations. Do we not remember the ‘Fatah Land’ experiment on the Lebanese and Palestinian people? Did this experiment succeed in liberating even a single inch of Palestinian land?
Limiting the confrontation to mere border clashes and getting Hamas further involved will have repercussions on the Palestinians in Lebanon first, and serve those who Hamas cannot but respond to as Hezbollah appears to be balancing its engagements on the border based on certain internal equations.
Benjamin Netanyahu’s appetite for revenge, backed by US support, necessitates avoiding the Palestinian victim from the clear and obvious division. Once again, we must pay attention to the dilemma that is starting to worry the authorities in Israel concerning what comes “after Gaza.” This alone is enough to ensure that the confrontation remains there geographically, assuming Hamas’s plans are purely Palestine-oriented.
As for Lebanon, the lesson is significant this time. The clear role of the presidential vacuum is emerging, which signifies that Lebanon is just a battleground.