Two events triggered the current Middle East crisis:
- On June 25, Hamas militants attacked an Israeli post in the Gaza Strip, killing two Israeli soldiers and taking one hostage.
- On July 12, Hizballah fighters ambushed an Israeli patrol on the northern border - several Israeli soldiers were killed and two were captured.
Israel responded to each provocation with military operations. The question that has been in everyone's mind is the possible connection between the two events. Were they planned in advance? Did Hizballah simply take advantage of the Israeli focus on Gaza to mount an operation in the north?
According to a senior Israeli official in a position to know, there was a meeting shortly before July 12 in Damascus, Syria. Present at that meeting were:
- Ali Larijani, secretary of the Supreme National Security Council of Iran
- Hasan Nasrallah, Secretary General of Hizballah
- Khalid Mash'al, political leader of Hamas (resident in Damascus)
According to the official, it was at this meeting that Iran gave the go-ahead for the Hizballah operation against the Israelis in the north to relieve pressure on Hamas in the south and force Israel into a two-front confrontation.