Biden official says US believes Hezbollah not seeking full-scale war with Israel

Jacob Magid is The Times of Israel's US bureau chief

The US does not think Hezbollah is seeking to fully open up a new front against Israel after the IDF allegedly assassinated Hamas deputy leader Saleh al-Arouri in Beirut yesterday, a senior Biden administration official says.

“I think from everything that we can tell, there is no clear desire from Hezbollah to go to war with Israel, and vice versa,” the senior administration official tells reporters on condition of anonymity.

The senior Biden official doesn’t go as far as to justify the alleged assassination but notes that the US had put a $5 million reward for information on Arouri, adding that senior members of Hamas “must be held accountable.”

The official also echoes an assertion made yesterday by one of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s spokesmen who ostensibly sought to convince Hezbollah not to respond by declaring that the assassination specifically targeted Hamas figures and was not an attack on the Iranian proxy or on Lebanon.

Asked about today’s deadly explosions in Iran near the grave of former Quds Force chief Qassem Soleimani, the senior administration official says the attack was similar to ones carried out by the Islamic State in the past.

“That’s the going assumption at the moment.”

Explaining the impetus behind a US-led joint statement earlier today against the Iranian-backed Houthis in Yemen, the senior US official says that US President Joe Biden wanted to send “a very clear warning to the Houthis that they will bear the full consequences and responsibility for any further attacks against commercial vessels in the Red Sea.”

“I would not anticipate another warning because this speaks very much for itself,” the official says.

Most Popular