update deskIsrael at War

Israeli evacuees call on Biden to back force against Hezbollah

A group representing 60,000 displaced northern residents asked Washington to give "full support" to Jerusalem to "act with the necessary force."

Residents and supporters of communities in northern Israel rally at the Amiad Junction in the Upper Galilee, calling for the government to better address their needs, Dec. 26, 2023. Photo by David Cohen/Flash90.
Residents and supporters of communities in northern Israel rally at the Amiad Junction in the Upper Galilee, calling for the government to better address their needs, Dec. 26, 2023. Photo by David Cohen/Flash90.

A group representing some 60,000 evacuees from northern Israel is calling on the Biden administration to back a military campaign to push Hezbollah away from the border.

Lobby 1701 is named after the U.N. Security Council Resolution that ended the 2006 Second Lebanon War and mandated that the Iranian terrorist proxy stay north of the Litani River, which is around 18 miles from the Israeli border.

The Lebanese Shi’ite group has entrenched itself along the border in violation of the resolution. Lobby 1701 argues in its letter to the American government that the diplomatic approach is not working and only military force will ensure residents’ safety upon return to their homes in the north of Israel.

They are asking Washington to give “full support to the government of Israel to act with the necessary force.” The letter was addressed to President Joe Biden, the U.S. National Security Council, American Ambassador to Israel Jack Lew and members of Congress.

Hezbollah has been waging a low-intensity conflict against Israel since Hamas’s Oct. 7 massacre of 1,200 people in the Jewish state.

“Since Oct. 7, Hezbollah has put an end to our daily lives here in northern Israel. Because of their daily missiles and UAV attacks that target our homes and communities, and the threat of many more, we were unwillingly forced to evacuate,” the letter reads.

It continues: “For 17 years we have had to bear witness to how ineffective UNSCR 1701 is in the face of reality. Hezbollah never acted in accordance with the resolution and openly established military positions on the border—feet away from our homes. Meanwhile, UNIFIL [the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon] has been providing a false sense of security, while allowing Hezbollah to rearm, prepare and plan its invasion into Israel. This has proven especially true over the past three years.

“If Lebanon is unable to properly implement UNSCR 1701 to the extent that we deserve and demand, to provide a basic sense of security, we will relentlessly pressure our government to solve this issue through military means, and we request your full support. This is not a threat, nor is it a warning,” Lobby 1701 wrote.

Israel informed the Biden administration that it wants Hezbollah‘s terrorist army pushed back some six miles from the border as part of a diplomatic deal, Axios reported last week.

The Lebanese group’s escalations at the frontier since Oct. 7 were reportedly one of the main topics discussed during a Dec. 18 meeting in Tel Aviv between U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant.

Israeli and U.S. officials told Axios that Netanyahu and Gallant told Austin Jerusalem wants a deal that pushes the terrorist group far enough from the border so that it cannot threaten Israeli communities, including by carrying out an Oct. 7-style invasion.

For its part, the United States is concerned with preventing the widening of the Israel-Hamas war into a regional conflict involving Hezbollah and other Iranian proxies and has been pursuing diplomatic solutions to the situation at the Israel-Lebanon border.

According to Axios, Austin told Netanyahu and Gallant that the Biden administration understands Jerusalem’s concerns about the Hezbollah threat at the border but needs time to work out a diplomatic resolution, and asked Israel not to take steps that exacerbate the situation.

Netanyahu and Gallant said that they were willing to give the U.S. time to work on a diplomatic situation but that the time frame for progress was measured in weeks.

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