Israeli army chief warns his forces can destroy any village in Lebanon as tensions with Hezbollah mount
Speaking to soldiers in Gaza, Halevi said he was convinced that the Israeli army could move the war deeper into Lebanon if necessary, after seeing what troops were able to do in the Palestinian territory.
"We fought in Gaza, so we know how to do it in Lebanon, if necessary," he said. "After what you did (in Gaza), there is no village in Lebanon that you cannot enter and destroy."
Gaza has been devastated by a three-month long air and ground offensive that Israel launched after Hamas launched a surprise attack on 7 October.
More than 23,000 people have been killed in the Israeli onslaught on Gaza, amid accusations of genocide, and Israel has vowed to crush Hamas.
Hezbollah, a powerful Iran-backed group in Lebanon, has traded fire with the Israeli military since the start of the Gaza war, in a move it claims is in support of Hamas.
The group says that it has disrupted Israel’s campaign in Gaza by forcing Tel Aviv to deploy some of its military along the Lebanon border.
More than 140 Hezbollah fighters, including top commanders, have been killed in the fierce cross-border violence. Israel says nine of its soldiers have died.
Israel's Netanyahu has a personal interest in expanding the Gaza war, including to Lebanon, to serve his own political interests— The New Arab (@The_NewArab) January 5, 2024
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Both sides have threatened to resort to full-scale conflict.
The scale of destruction in some of south Lebanon’s villages have been a stark reminder of the 2006 summer war fought between Hezbollah and Israel – the last major conflict between the arch-foes.
While technically still at war with Israel, the Lebanese government has not been involved in the clashes, as Western powers look to de-escalate tensions and find a permanent political settlement between Beirut and Tel Aviv.
Senior White House adviser Amos Hochstein landed in Beirut on Thursday as part of US efforts to ease tensions along the border.
Playing a mediator role in the 2022 deal that saw Lebanon and Israel demarcate their maritime boundaries, Hochstein has also been tasked with mediating negotiations between the enemy states to reach an agreement on solidifying their land border.