update deskIsrael at War

US growing increasingly concerned Israel may invade Lebanon

“We are operating on the assumption that an Israeli military operation is [likely] in the coming months,” a senior Biden administration official told CNN.

  • Israeli artillery firing into Lebanon, Jan. 15, 2024. Photo by Yonatan Sindel/Flash90.
    Israeli artillery firing into Lebanon, Jan. 15, 2024. Photo by Yonatan Sindel/Flash90.
  • Smoke rises following an Israeli Air Force strike in Southern Lebanon, Oct. 9, 2023. Photo by David Cohen/Flash90.
    Smoke rises following an Israeli Air Force strike in Southern Lebanon, Oct. 9, 2023. Photo by David Cohen/Flash90.
  • Two Israelis were wounded by a Hezbollah rocket in Kiryat Shmona, close to the border with Lebanon, Feb. 13, 2024. Photo by Erez Ben Simon/TPS.
    Two Israelis were wounded by a Hezbollah rocket in Kiryat Shmona, close to the border with Lebanon, Feb. 13, 2024. Photo by Erez Ben Simon/TPS.
  • An Israeli artillery unit near the border with Lebanon, Nov. 22, 2023. Photo by Ayal Margolin/Flash90.
    An Israeli artillery unit near the border with Lebanon, Nov. 22, 2023. Photo by Ayal Margolin/Flash90.
  • Israeli soldiers patrol on Mount Hermon, near the borders with Syria and Lebanon, Nov. 20, 2023. Photo by Ayal Margolin/Flash90.
    Israeli soldiers patrol on Mount Hermon, near the borders with Syria and Lebanon, Nov. 20, 2023. Photo by Ayal Margolin/Flash90.
  • An Israeli soldier during morning prayers near the border with Lebanon, Oct. 25, 2023. Photo by Michael Giladi/Flash90.
    An Israeli soldier during morning prayers near the border with Lebanon, Oct. 25, 2023. Photo by Michael Giladi/Flash90.
  • IDF artillery fires at an enemy target in Lebanon, Nov. 2, 2023. Photo by Ayal Margolin/Flash90.
    IDF artillery fires at an enemy target in Lebanon, Nov. 2, 2023. Photo by Ayal Margolin/Flash90.

The Biden administration is increasingly concerned that Israel is planning a ground invasion in the coming months to remove Hezbollah from Southern Lebanon should diplomatic efforts fail, CNN reported overnight Wednesday.

Senior U.S. officials told the news outlet that the offensive could be launched in late spring or early summer. The potential invasion is being discussed in White House intelligence briefings.

Israeli security forces at the site where two drones entered Israel from Lebanon crashed in an open area near Kfar Blum, northern Israel, Jan. 25, 2024. Photo by Ayal Margolin/Flash90.

Jerusalem is determined to return the 80,00 residents forced to evacuate the Lebanese border area in October due to Hezbollah attacks.

Hezbollah joined the war in support of Hamas on Oct. 8 and has been launching daily cross-border attacks on northern Israel, while Israel has responded with aerial attacks and artillery fire.

The Israeli defense establishment has repeatedly stated that while a diplomatic solution is preferred, the military option remains on the table to restore security to the north.

Hezbollah’s very presence in Southern Lebanon is in violation of United Nations Resolution 1701, which demands that the terror group disarm and pull its force north of the Litani River.

“We are operating on the assumption that an Israeli military operation is [likely] in the coming months,” a senior Biden administration official told CNN. “Not necessarily imminently in the next few weeks but perhaps later this spring. An Israeli military operation is a distinct possibility.”

Led by U.S. special envoy Amos Hochstein, a frequent visitor to Jerusalem and Beirut, the Biden administration has been attempting to broker a diplomatic resolution to the Israel-Hezbollah conflict to avoid further escalation, which could spark a regional war.

U.S. Envoy Amos Hochstein, Feb. 9, 2021. Credit: U.S. Embassy in Lebanon.

A French proposal would see the radical Shi’ite militia moved six miles from the border, putting northern Israeli residents out of the range of anti-tank missile fire. That distance still falls some 13 miles short of the Litani River.

“I think what Israel is doing is they are raising this threat in the hope that there will be a negotiated agreement,” the official said.

“Some Israeli officials suggest that it is more of an effort at creating a threat that they can utilize. Others speak of it more as a military necessity that’s going to happen,” the official continued.

“Israel has been willing to give diplomacy a chance and hope it will succeed,” an Israeli official said to CNN. “If the issue can not be resolved diplomatically, Israel will have to consider alternate means.”

In a phone call with his American counterpart overnight Wednesday, Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant told Lloyd Austin that Israel “will not tolerate threats against its citizens and violations of its sovereignty, and will take the measures required to ensure their security.”

He also briefed the Pentagon chief on the continuous Hezbollah attacks on Israel’s northern border region, according to the Defense Ministry’s readout of the call.

Air-raid sirens sounded in the Western Galilee communities of Shomi and Adamit on Thursday morning. This followed Israeli strikes on Wednesday night on Hezbollah terror infrastructure in the areas of Kafra and Seddiqine in Southern Lebanon.

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