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Israel warns Lebanon of prospect of all-out war as US seeks to defuse hostilities

Israel warns Lebanon of prospect of all-out war as US seeks to defuse hostilities
Israel warns Lebanon of prospect of all-out war as US seeks to defuse hostilities


TOPSHOT – Smoke rises from the site of an Israeli airstrike on Zibqin, southern Lebanon, June 12, 2024.

Kawnat Haju | Afp | Getty Images

The Israeli military approved an offensive against Lebanon after a surge in cross-border shooting, as talk of “all-out war” fueled concerns that the conflict in Gaza was spiraling into the wider Middle East.

“Operational plans for an offensive in Lebanon have been approved and validated, and decisions have been made on continuing to strengthen the readiness of troops on the ground” by the commanders of the Israel Defense Forces, said Tuesday evening the Israeli army, without revealing whether the initiative would involve mobilizing troops in the neighboring country.

Israel and Hezbollah, which controls much of Lebanon, have been trading fire since October alongside the Jewish nation's war campaign against the Palestinian militant group Hamas in the Gaza Strip. Hamas and Hezbollah both benefit from Iranian patronage and the Lebanese group says it stands in solidarity with the plight of the Palestinian people, more than 37,000 of whom have been killed since the start of the offensive, according to figures from the local Health Ministry.

Hostilities intensified after the IDF reported last week that an Israeli strike in the southern Lebanese village of Jouaiyya killed a senior Hezbollah commander, Sami Taleb Abdullah, and three other members of the group. As recently as Wednesday morning, the Hezbollah-aligned al-Manar TV news channel reported that the group had launched a missile attack targeting Israeli soldiers' positions in Metula in Israel, according to a Google translation. CNBC could not independently confirm the report.

The IDF's announcement comes after Hezbollah released a nine-minute video of what it claims to be aerial footage captured by surveillance drones. The Lebanese group said the area revealed in the clips spans 6.5 square kilometers (2.5 square miles) of Israel and is located 24 kilometers (nearly 15 miles) from Lebanon's border with the Palestinian territories, claiming that it includes the port and military base of Haifa. and the Rafael military complex. CNBC was unable to verify this footage and contacted the Israeli military to verify its authenticity.

The video sparked fear and fury in Israel, where Haifa Mayor Yona Yahav compared it to “psychological terror against the people of Haifa and the north,” according to Reuters.

Foreign Minister Israel Katz said in a social media update that his country is now “very close to the moment of the decision to change the rules against Hezbollah and Lebanon.” In an all-out war, Hezbollah will be destroyed and Lebanon will be seriously affected. “

Katz acknowledged the likely toll on Israel, which is strained by the simultaneous fight against Hamas in the Gaza enclave, and faces growing international pressure to limit Palestinian civilian casualties.

“The State of Israel will pay a price on the front and on the home front, but with a strong, united nation and the full might of the IDF, we will restore security to the people of the north,” the foreign minister said .

“I remind you that, according to the United Nations, there is no territorial dispute between Lebanon and Israel,” Israeli government spokesperson David Mencer said at a press briefing on Tuesday. “Whether diplomatically or militarily, one way or another we will guarantee the safe and secure return of Israelis to their homes in northern Israel. This is not up for negotiation.”

Security concerns have pushed thousands of Lebanese and Israeli civilians to flee their border settlements.

“A Greater War”

The two neighboring states have been in a theoretical U.N.-brokered ceasefire since a 34-day war in 2006. The United States, which views Israel's ties with Lebanon as closely linked to the chances of a truce in the Gaza Strip, attempted to defuse the hostilities. US envoy Amos Hochstein met with Israeli and Lebanese leaders earlier this week.

“Let's be clear: the conflict along the Blue Line [of demarcation] between Israel and Hezbollah has not lasted long enough,” Hochstein said at a press briefing Tuesday, during a visit to Beirut.

He highlighted the White House's ambitions to avoid the conflict spilling over into a broader war, noting: “The conversations I had here today in Beirut and those I had yesterday in Israel are being conducted because the situation is serious, we have experienced an escalation in recent weeks, and what [U.S.] President [Joe] Biden wants to avoid further escalation towards a bigger war. That’s the effort here.”

Lebanon has since sought to distance itself from the hostilities.

“Lebanon does not seek escalation, and what is needed is to end the ongoing Israeli aggression against Lebanon and return to calm and stability on the southern border,” said the Prime Minister. Lebanese interim minister Najib Mikati during his meeting with Hochstein, according to Google. comments published by his office.




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