Israel will escalate Hezbollah clashes if diplomacy fails, Gantz says
Speaking at a press conference on Wednesday evening, Gantz said the situation on Israel's northern border "demands change", referring to clashes between the Israeli army and Hezbollah that have been ongoing since 8 October.
The exchanges of fire have killed around 150 people in Lebanon, including Hezbollah members and dozens of civilians. Israel has lost nine soldiers and four civilians in the fighting.
"The stopwatch for a diplomatic solution is running out, if the world and the Lebanese government don't act in order to prevent the firing on Israel's northern residents and to distance Hezbollah from the border, the [Israeli military] will do it," Gantz added, referring to ongoing diplomatic efforts by the Western states to stop the current fighting.
Diplomats are pushing for the implementation of UN resolution 1701, which would see Hezbollah withdraw behind the Litani river and Israel cease military action in Lebanon.
Fighting between Israel and Hezbollah has remained intense since October, with daily attacks on Israeli army positions by Hezbollah involving anti-tank guided missiles and rockets lead to artillery and airstrikes.
Gantz's recent comments echo those of fellow war cabinet members, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defence Minister Yoav Gallant. Both have warned that the Israeli army will invade south Lebanon if the clashes continue.
On Wednesday, Israelis evacuated from northern border communities wrote a letter to US President Joe Biden calling for his administration to support an Israeli offensive into south Lebanon.
The residents added that the government must "solve this issue through military means" if no diplomatic solution is found.
Some 80,000 Israelis and over 70,000 Lebanese have been evacuated from the border area since October 7.
Hezbollah began military action against Israel in the immediate aftermath of the outbreak of the war in Gaza, which has so far killed over 21,000 Palestinians.