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Report: Hezbollah withdraws 1-2 miles from Israel’s northern border

Gallant tells Hochstein time running out on political solution in north • Lebanese prime minister condemns alleged Israeli violations of U.N. Resolution 1701.

An IDF artillery unit stationed near Israel's border with Lebanon, Dec. 12, 2023. Photo by David Cohen/Flash90.
An IDF artillery unit stationed near Israel's border with Lebanon, Dec. 12, 2023. Photo by David Cohen/Flash90.

Hezbollah has withdrawn its forces 2 to 3 kilometers (1.24 to 1.86 miles) from the Israeli border, The Economist reported on Thursday.

The retreat is described as a “tactical withdrawal” and a signal to the United States and Israel that the Iranian terrorist proxy wants to avoid an all-out war.

Gallant: Time running out for diplomacy

It will soon be too late to find a peaceful solution for Hezbollah’s attacks from across the Lebanese border, Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant told U.S. presidential adviser Amos Hochstein on Thursday.

During the two men’s meeting at the Kirya military headquarters in Tel Aviv, Gallant conveyed the message that “There is only one possible result—a new reality in the northern arena, which will enable the secure return of our citizens. Yet we find ourselves at a junction—there is a short window of time for diplomatic understandings, which we prefer. We will not tolerate the threats posed by the Iranian proxy Hezbollah and we will ensure the security of our citizens.”

U.S. presidential adviser Amos Hochstein (left) and Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant in Tel Aviv, Jan. 4, 2024. Photo by Ariel Hermoni/Ministry of Defense.

Gallant emphasized that Israel’s top priority is changing the security situation at the border to enable the return of some 80,000 internally displaced Israelis to their homes.

IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi, Israeli Ambassador to the United States Michael Herzog and senior defense officials joined the briefing.

IAF attacks Hezbollah targets in Lebanon

An Israeli Air Force fighter jet struck a Hezbollah observation post and terrorist infrastructure in the Maroun El Ras area of Southern Lebanon on Thursday following several launches towards Israel from the location, the IDF said.

A short while later, the IDF attacked an anti-tank squad that was operating in the same area, located adjacent to the border.

On Monday morning, an Israeli jet struck a Hezbollah terrorist cell attempting to launch drones from a civilian area of Maroun El Ras. The UAVs were destroyed.

“This is another example of Hezbollah’s use of civilian areas for its terrorist activity and its violations of U.N. Security Council Resolution 1701,” the IDF said.

Overnight Wednesday, IDF troops in the Eastern Galilee fired mortar shells to remove a threat at Rab El Thalathine along the Lebanese border.

On Thursday morning, Hezbollah fired several projectiles at northern Israel, close to Moshav Shtula, the Bedouin village of Arab al-Aramshe, Kibbutz Manara and the town of Metula. No injuries were reported from those attacks.

Hezbollah warned al-Arouri before assassination

The Hezbollah-affiliated Lebanese newspaper Al Akhbar reported that the Iran-backed terrorist army told Hamas deputy leader Saleh al-Arouri that Israel was “following his every move” days before he was assassinated.

Al-Arouri was killed in Beirut on Tuesday night. Israel has not publicly taken responsibility for the assassination. However, al-Arouri was one of the top Hamas leaders on Israel’s target list following the terrorist group’s Oct. 7 massacre.

Six other Hamas operatives, including two senior officials, were killed in the attack, and five others were wounded. The explosions rocked the Beirut suburb of Dahiyeh, a Hezbollah stronghold.

According to the Al Akhbar report, it is unclear whether a fighter jet or a drone carried out the hit. Before the attack, radar had detected the presence of jets over the Mediterranean Sea and drones over Beirut and Dahiyeh.

Several missiles were reportedly launched and two of them succeeded in penetrating two ceilings before reaching the Hamas office and killing the terrorists. The precision missiles were small.

Lebanese premier condemns killing of terror leader

Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati called the assassination of the Hamas terrorist leader a “new Israeli crime” shortly after the attack on Tuesday night.

On Thursday, Mikati welcomed UNIFIL (United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon) commander Maj. Gen. Aroldo Lázaro Sáenz at the Grand Serail, the prime minister’s headquarters in downtown Beirut.

During the meeting, Mikati reiterated his condemnation of Israeli attacks in Lebanon. The two men discussed U.N. Security Resolution Resolution 1701, which ended the 2006 Second Lebanon War and demanded that Hezbollah be disarmed and not venture south of the Litani River, some 18 miles north of the Israeli border.

“Mikati condemned Israeli aggressions against Lebanon and reiterated Lebanon’s steadfast commitment to Resolution 1701. He called for raising the issue at the United Nations to reject Israeli violations, emphasizing the need to neutralize UNIFIL from military operations for it to fulfill its role effectively,” the Lebanese Kataeb Party’s official news site stated.

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