Military chief: Israel under threat from all sides

The Middle East is back on the agenda. Israel's military chief of staff reportedly warned this week that an increase in rocket attacks against Israel might lead to a large-scale military operation in Hamas-controlled Gaza. Additionally, Israel's defense minister warned of a possible Israeli military strike against Iran's nuclear program after the international nuclear watchdog agency reported that Iran conducted secret weapons-related tests and may be close to developing a nuclear warhead.

Lt.-Col. Avital Leibovich, the head of the international media division of the Israeli Defense Force (IDF), told CBS News that the Israeli military now needs to deal with several fronts, where in the past they have had only one.

Today, Leibovich said, in a regional environment altered by the "Arab Spring," Israel's borders with Lebanon, Gaza, and Syria pose the greatest risks to its population and the IDF. On the northern border with Lebanon, Israel has to contend with the Shiite militia Hezbollah, which stores its weaponry under civilian villages in the south of Lebanon. Near Gaza, Israeli citizens now face missiles fired from the Hamas-run enclave that can reach farther into the Jewish state than ever before. And in Syria, uncertainty surrounding the fate of the embattled Assad regime, which last May organized mass marches on the Golan Heights border with Israel.

The use of civilian populations as fronts for military operations, is one of the most difficult developments. "Basically we can see a phenomenon which is becoming stronger and stronger in the recent region in which civilians serve as human shields. We've seen it in Gaza, and we see it now in Lebanon," she said.

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  • Pamela Falk

    Pamela Falk is CBS News Foreign Affairs Analyst and an international lawyer, based at the United Nations.

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