Tensions continue to escalate on Israel’s Northern Border as the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) intensified airstrikes on Hezbollah targets in Lebanon and Syria. According to Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari, the IDF spokesperson, Israel has deployed three troop divisions to the northern border in response to Hezbollah’s continued aggression.
The IDF’s primary objective, as outlined by Hagari, is to “reshape the security reality” in the region and allow thousands of displaced Israelis to return to their homes safely. However, Hagari emphasized that Israel remains prepared for immediate action should it be provoked further.
Since the conflict’s outbreak following Hamas’s attack on southern Israel on October 7, the IDF has conducted numerous airstrikes targeting Hezbollah positions. These strikes have destroyed over 3,400 Hezbollah sites, including observation posts, weapons depots, and command centers.
The IDF claims to have killed approximately 200 Hezbollah operatives in these operations, predominantly in Lebanon but also in Syria. One of the notable targets destroyed by the IDF was an airstrip used by Hezbollah to launch drones, underscoring Israel’s commitment to neutralizing Hezbollah’s capabilities to launch attacks across the border.
Additionally, the IDF destroyed a weapons depot storing anti-aircraft missiles, further weakening Hezbollah’s military infrastructure. During a press conference, Hagari showcased rare footage of a recent airstrike on a Hezbollah cell in southern Syria, highlighting Israel’s determination to confront Hezbollah wherever it operates in the region.
Hezbollah’s Relentless Attacks
Hezbollah’s response to Israel’s airstrikes has been relentless. Since October 8, Hezbollah-led forces have launched near-daily attacks on Israeli communities and military posts along the border, resulting in civilian casualties and the deaths of Israeli soldiers.
The group also claims to be supporting Hamas in Gaza. Meanwhile, Hezbollah has reported 177 members killed in Lebanon and Syria, along with civilian casualties. Despite international efforts to broker a ceasefire, hostilities persist, with both sides showing no signs of backing down.
Israel’s Defense Minister Yoav Gallant has reaffirmed Israel’s commitment to defending its northern border against Hezbollah aggression. He made it clear that any potential ceasefire agreement with Hamas in Gaza would not apply to Hezbollah, signaling Israel’s readiness to continue its military activities until security is restored to Israel’s northern communities.
Israel’s objective is to drive Hezbollah away from the border, in line with the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1701, which stopped the 2006 Second Lebanon War. Amid escalating tensions, the United States has intervened, seeking to prevent a full-blown conflict between Israel and Hezbollah.
US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has expressed skepticism about the likelihood of a war between the two sides but emphasized the importance of diplomatic efforts to de-escalate the situation.
Progress In Talks
Meanwhile, US special envoy Amos Hochstein has reportedly made progress in talks aimed at mitigating the threat posed by the Lebanese terror group Hezbollah. Hochstein, known for his instrumental role in brokering the maritime border agreement between Israel and Lebanon in 2022, has been engaging in diplomacy efforts between the two countries since last month.
Israeli officials have expressed cautious optimism about the prospects of a deal, marking the first time since the conflict began nearly five months ago. Per media reports, a proposed framework brokered by the US includes three phases.
The initial step involves an interim agreement for Hezbollah to pull back 8 to 10 kilometers from the border. The second aspect entails a boost in UN and Lebanese army presence in the region. The last phase of the plan includes the eventual rescue of evacuated inhabitants to their homes.
The suggested framework also encompasses talks about demarcating a tangible land border between Israel and Lebanon and incentives for Beirut to consent to the agreement. Since Israel’s withdrawal from south Lebanon in 2000, the two countries have relied on a UN-enforced ceasefire line known as the “Blue Line” without establishing a formal land border agreement.