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Saturday, May 18, 2024

Israel seeking ‘fundamental change’ to Lebanon border – Netanyahu

PM Benjamin Netanyahu told a US envoy that his country is more ‘determined’ and ‘daring’ than ever before

Israel is committed to seeking a “fundamental change” to the security situation on its northern border with Lebanon as it aims to reduce attacks from the Iran-backed Hezbollah militant group, PM Benjamin Netanyahu told a US envoy on Thursday.

Tensions between Israel and Lebanon have increased since Hamas’ cross-border assault on Israel on October 7, as the Hezbollah militant group continues to mount a series of attacks on Israeli territory. Hezbollah, like Hamas, is considered to be a terrorist organization by Israel.

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In a meeting with US Special Presidential Envoy Amos Hochstein in Tel Aviv on Thursday, Netanyahu said that security measures must be strengthened in Israel’s north so that approximately 100,000 evacuated residents can “return to their homes and live in safety and security.”

“We will not stop until this goal has been achieved, whether diplomatically, which Israel prefers, or in some other way,” the Israeli leader added, according to the Times of Israel. Netanyahu did not give specifics on the nature of the plans.

He also told Hochstein, according to the outlet, that “following the murderous assault of October 7, Israel is more determined, daring, and united than ever.” Hochstein had been dispatched to the region by US President Joe Biden in a bid to reduce tensions between Israel and Hezbollah.

A message posted to Netanyahu’s X (formerly Twitter) account on Thursday following his meeting with Hochstein reiterated that Israel “is committed to bring about a fundamental change on its border with Lebanon.”

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In addition to its ground and air bombardment of Gaza, which has killed some 22,000 Palestinians so far, Israel has also deployed troops towards its border with Lebanon as it seeks to prevent the possibility of a Hezbollah incursion similar to that of Hamas’ cross-border attack in October.

Earlier this week, Hamas’ influential deputy leader, Saleh al-Arouri, was killed in a drone attack in the Lebanese capital of Beirut. While Israel, which rarely comments on military operations, has not admitted responsibility for the bombing, Hezbollah leader Hasan Nasrallah has vowed revenge against its southern neighbor.

“We are not afraid of war,” Nasrallah said this week in a televised address, adding that “there will be no ceilings, no rules” to Hezbollah’s response.

So far, Hezbollah has avoided major escalations at the border, saying earlier that its actions are aimed at tying up the IDF’s forces to prevent their deployment to Gaza.

The attack that killed al-Arouri was the first in Beirut following months of exchanges of fire. Until then, the skirmishes had mainly been limited to areas around Lebanon’s southern border.