update deskIsrael at War

Gallant: Hezbollah pushing Israel towards decision on IDF op

In a meeting with U.S. envoy Amos Hochstein in Tel Aviv, the defense minister raised "the ongoing threat" posed by the Lebanese terrorist organization.

U.S. envoy Amos Hochstein (left) meets with Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant at the Kirya military headquarters in Tel Aviv. Photo by Shachar Yurman/Defense Ministry.
U.S. envoy Amos Hochstein (left) meets with Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant at the Kirya military headquarters in Tel Aviv. Photo by Shachar Yurman/Defense Ministry.

Hezbollah’s attacks on Israeli territory are pushing Jerusalem towards a “critical point” in its decision-making process regarding a possible operation against the terrorist group in Southern Lebanon, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant told senior White House envoy Amos Hochstein during a meeting in Tel Aviv on Tuesday.

Gallant and Hochstein “discussed the ongoing threat posed by Hezbollah and the need to change the security situation in the arena in order to safely return Israel’s displaced communities to their homes in the north,” according to a readout from the Defense Ministry.

While Gallant expressed his appreciation and commitment to U.S. efforts to broker a diplomatic resolution to the conflict and avoid regional war, he emphasized that the Iran-backed terrorist group continues to drag the parties towards “a dangerous escalation.”

Shortly after the meeting, air-raid sirens sounded in several communities near the Lebanese border, with reports of rockets hitting buildings in the largely evacuated Upper Galilee city of Kiryat Shmona.

Hezbollah attacks have killed six civilians and 10 Israel Defense Forces soldiers since the Shi’ite militia joined the war in support of Hamas on Oct. 8. Some 80,000 Israelis have been displaced from their homes in communities near the Lebanese border as a result of the attacks.

On Monday, one person was killed and nine were wounded, two seriously, when an anti-tank missile fired from Lebanon struck an orchard in Margaliot, a moshav in the Eastern Galilee.

The slain man has been identified as Nibin Maxwell, a 31-year-old foreign worker from Kerala, India, according to The Hindu.

The attack took place hours before Hochstein touched down in Beirut on the first stop of his regional tour. In the Lebanese capital, he met with Parliament Speaker and Hezbollah ally Nabih Berri, Prime Minister Najib Mikati and army commander Gen. Joseph Aoun.

“The United States remains committed to advancing lasting security solutions achieved through diplomatic process,” Hochstein told reporters after he met Berri, the Associated Press reported.

“An escalation will certainly not help Lebanon rebuild and advance forward at this critical time in Lebanon’s history,” Hochstein said.

Israel has threatened a full-scale invasion to push Hezbollah north of the Litani River if a diplomatic solution is not found. The Biden administration’s efforts to calm tensions have thus far been unsuccessful.

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