For two reasons, however, such clashes are unlikely to escalate into all-out war. First, since Iran and Israel do not share a border, it is difficult to see how the present hostilities could spiral into a wide-ranging confrontation involving ground operations. On the other hand, if Iran chooses to involve its proxy Hezbollah in Lebanon, which does share a border with Israel, matters would look quite different, especially given Hezbollah’s exceptional rocket arsenal.
This brings us to a second reason war is unlikely: No party regards a full-scale conflict between Israel and Iran as in its strategic interests—Israel and Iran themselves don’t, nor do the U.S. or Russia, or even Hezbollah and Syria. Hezbollah may be willing to send advisers and soldiers to fight in Syria alongside the Shiite militias and the Revolutionary Guard, but it’s in no hurry to entangle Lebanon in the conflict. In the recent Lebanese parliamentary elections, Hezbollah successfully campaigned on domestic issues. It is doubtful Hezbollah has much interest in reprising its role as an Iranian messenger, which is how it has been perceived by many in Lebanon during the years of the civil war in Syria.