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Despite agreeing to a temporary ceasefire in the Gaza Strip, Israel continues to escalate on other fronts causing more tensions in the Middle East.
The four-day ceasefire in Gaza, which is supposed to include the release of 50 Israeli hostages by Hamas and some 150-300 Palestinains prisoners from Israeli jails, entered into effect on November 24. However, tensions remained high on other fronts.
The Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) stepped up operations against both Lebanon and Syria in the days leading to the ceasefire in Gaza.
On November 21, two journalists of the Beirut-based Al-Mayadeen TV and a senior commander of the Palestinian Hamas Movement were killed in two separate Israeli strikes on southern Lebanon. More escalation was reported on November 22. Another Israeli strike on southern Lebanon killed five fighters of Hezbollah, one of whom was the son of a senior official of the group.
Also on November 22, two waves of Israeli strikes targeted Syria, with the second targeting the town of Set Zaynab to the south of the capital, Damascus. Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and Hezbollah are known to be present and active in the town.
The Yemeni front was also active in the days leading to the ceasefire in Gaza. On November 22, the Houthis launched a number of cruise missiles from Yemen at military targets in the southernmost Israeli city of Eilat. The IDF said that one missile was intercepted by a fighter jet over the Red Sea.
In addition, a United States warship intercepted multiple suicide drones, which were launched by the Houthis from Yemen, over the Red Sea on November 23.
The U.S. contribution to the Israeli war on Gaza was not limited to the Yemeni front. A series of U.S. strikes hit Iraq on November 21 and 22, killing nine fighters of the Iranian-backed Islamic Resistance in Iraq (IRI). The Pentagon said that the strikes were a retaliation to recent attacks on U.S. forces in Iraq and Syria. The IRI responded with a series of rocket and drone attacks on U.S. bases in both countries.
While the temporary ceasefire in Gaza was widely seen as a sign of de-escalation, Israeli provocations on other fronts could lead to a dangerous confrontation with Iran and its allies. In addition, Israeli officials appear to be determined to continue the war on the Strip.
U.S., Egypt and Qatar, who brokered the ceasefire, are reportedly working to expand it. Cairo and Doha are worried about an all-out war in the Middle East. Meanwhile, Washington is likely just concerned that the Israeli war is distracting attention from Ukraine.