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Vast majority of Israelis support new Lebanon invasion: poll

Vast majority of Israelis support new Lebanon invasion: poll
3 min read
16 February, 2024
Most Israelis say their government should carry out a full-scale attack in Lebanon to destroy Hezbollah, a poll conducted by the Maariv newspaper has shown.
Wednesday was one of the deadliest days since the start of cross-border clashes between Israel and Hezbollah [Getty]

Seventy-one percent of Israelis believe Israel should conduct a large-scale military operation against Lebanon to deter Hezbollah, a recent poll has shown.

The survey was conducted by the Israeli Maariv newspaper amid worsening cross-border violence between the Israeli army and the powerful Iran-backed Hezbollah militant group.

Over the past four months, since the flare-up in tensions following the start of Israel's war on Gaza on 7 October, Israeli strikes in southern Lebanon have killed more than 250 people, including 203 Hezbollah fighters

On the Israeli side of the border, 10 soldiers and six civilians have been killed by Hezbollah missiles, according to the Israeli army. This figure has been disputed by Hezbollah, which says the casualty numbers in Israel are much higher.

A growing number of Israelis, especially those who evacuated their homes in the north, have urged their government to take decisive action against Hezbollah and push them away from the frontier, even if that means a land invasion.

Lebanese have horrifying memories of Israeli occupation - including a number of massacres - which officially began in 1985 and ended in 2000. A war between Israel and Hezbollah took place in 2006, which saw around 1,191 Lebanese and 44 Israeli civilians killed with thousands more fleeing their homes.

Israelis are now refusing to return to their towns and settlements, fearing a 7 October-like scenario, when the Palestinian group Hamas conducted a massive surprise attack in southern Israel, killing and capturing hundreds.

Western nations are mediating talks to try to end the cross-border violence between Lebanon and Israel and fully demarcate the enemy states’ land border.

The two countries at war demarcated their maritime boundaries in a landmark October 2022 deal.

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Israel has threatened that it will resort to military action if diplomacy fails.

"Israel has previously made clear that it will not return to the reality that prevailed on the northern border before 7 October, and the declared goal is to remove the Radwan Force to beyond the Litani River and dismantle Hezbollah’s capabilities in… southern Lebanon," the Israel Hayom newspaper has reported.

The Radwan Force is the elite Hezbollah unit which Israel is trying to push away from its frontier. But the Shia Lebanese militant group has refused to pull out of southern Lebanon, saying the border violence will not end before a ceasefire in Gaza, where more than 28,700 people have died in Israeli bombardment.

Israel Hayom said despite the escalation in recent days, the chances of a full-scale war breaking out with Hezbollah were still farfetched, as Israel was currently focusing on defeating Hamas in Gaza and freeing hostages still held in the enclave.

A salvo of rockets from Hezbollah into northern Israel on Wednesday killed an Israeli soldier.

Later that day, Israel struck a building in the south Lebanon city of Nabatiyeh, killing at least 11 people, with rescue efforts continuing into Friday. Among those killed  were four children, with more feared did under the rubble. 

killing 11 people, with rescue efforts continuing into Friday

It was one of the deadliest attacks on civilians since the cross-border clashes began, indicating that Israel was no longer applying the so-called "rules of engagement" with Hezbollah, raising fears of a bigger conflict.

Separately on Friday, the Shia Amal Movement reported that four of its members died in the south Lebanon clashes.

Led by Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri, the militia and political party have lost several members in recent months as they join the cross-border fight with Israel.