Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant told local leaders in northern Israel that Jerusalem plans to completely remove the Hezbollah terror group from Southern Lebanon, Hebrew press reported on Wednesday.
U.N. Security Council Resolution 1701 stipulates that Hezbollah is not allowed to operate south of the Litani River, which is located some 30 kilometers (18 miles) north of the Israel-Lebanon frontier.
The U.N. resolution, which was passed after the 2006 war between Israel and Hezbollah and ratified by both Beirut and Jerusalem, also calls for the Iran-backed group to be disarmed.
Hezbollah has been testing the waters in recent weeks, initiating a series of fire exchanges as the Jewish state fights Hamas terrorists to the south. Since Oct. 7, three Israeli civilians and six IDF soldiers have been killed in attacks on the northern border.
Some 126,000 residents of communities near the Gaza and Lebanon borders have been evacuated to central Israel, and are living in guest houses, hotels, or with family. Many were evacuated by the state, but others opted to leave on their own. Overall, some 250,000 Israelis have been internally displaced by the war to date.
The some 80,000 Israelis who live up to nine kilometers from the northern border will not be asked to return home “until security is established” and Hezbollah is pushed back to the north of the Litani River, Gallant reportedly said on Wednesday.
The IDF on Wednesday attacked various targets in Southern Lebanon in response to ongoing cross-border attacks by Hezbollah terrorists.
“Since the morning, the IDF has been attacking a number of areas in Lebanese territory with tank and artillery fire,” said IDF Spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari.
Among the targets hit were a Hezbollah operational headquarters and other terrorist infrastructure, added Hagari.
The strikes came in response to mortar shells fired from Lebanon towards military outposts in the areas of Mount Hermon and Arab al-Aramshe in the Western Galilee, according to the IDF.
Later on Wednesday, the IDF attacked terrorist cells in Lebanese territory after a number of additional “launches” towards Israel were detected.
In a press conference held in southern Israel on Tuesday, IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi said the military was exacting a “heavy price” from Hezbollah, “which the group tries to hide.”
The IDF is working to allow Israeli civilians to return to their homes in northern border communities as soon as possible, Halevi added. “We know we will need more forces on the border, better abilities,” he said.
Throughout the day on Tuesday, Israel Air Force fighter jets struck assets belonging to Hezbollah in Lebanon following repeated attacks by the terrorist organization.
On Monday morning, mortar shells were fired from Lebanon at an IDF post in the area of Kibbutz Yiftah. Several launches were also identified Monday afternoon towards the Har Dov region, hitting in open areas, and another launch towards Kibbutz Misgav Am.
On Sunday, Ziv Medical Center in Safed admitted 12 people who had been wounded by a Hezbollah anti-tank missile. One woman and 11 men between the ages of 20 and 65 were lightly wounded.
Three IDF soldiers were lightly wounded overnight Sunday by mortar shells fired from Lebanon towards Israeli military posts in the area of Moshav Shtula.
Since Oct. 7, three Israeli civilians and six IDF soldiers have been killed in attacks on the northern border. Many more have been wounded.