Israel: Prepared for deployment in Lebanon


Lerato Khumalo

Concerns about a major war between Israel and Hezbollah are growing. It is against this backdrop that Israel’s defense minister is traveling to the USA. Meanwhile, things are simmering in his homeland. The news.

Before leaving for the USA, Israel’s Defense Minister Joav Galant confirmed that his country was “prepared for any operation that might be required in the Gaza Strip, Lebanon and other areas.” There are fears that an open war between Israel and Lebanon could escalate into a regional conflict in which the USA, as Israel’s most important ally, would also be drawn in.

In view of growing concerns about an escalation of the conflict, Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock (Greens) is travelling to Israel and Lebanon this week for talks.

Galant is travelling to the United States at the invitation of his counterpart Lloyd Austin. In addition to Austin, he also wanted to meet US Secretary of State Antony Blinken. “Our relations with the USA are more important than ever. Our meetings with US representatives are crucial in this war,” Galant said, according to his office.

The US broadcaster CNN reported that high-ranking US representatives had assured members of an Israeli delegation that the US would give Israel full support should a major war with Hezbollah break out.

Israel and Hezbollah have been constantly firing at each other for more than eight months. Recently, the intensity of the fighting has increased significantly. On Sunday, Hezbollah attacked several targets in Israel, including, according to media reports, in the area of ​​a facility belonging to the Israeli defense company Rafael in the north of the country. The missile defense system was able to intercept the drone.

Galant’s trip to the US comes after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu caused a renewed crisis in relations with President Joe Biden’s US administration with a video in which he harshly attacked the US government over a withheld arms shipment.

Netanyahu reiterated his accusations at the weekly cabinet meeting. About four months ago, there was “a dramatic decline in arms deliveries from the USA to Israel,” he said. After the situation had not changed for months, he went public with it.

Tens of thousands of Israelis demanded an end to Netanyahu’s government and the release of hostages held in the Gaza Strip during nationwide protests on Saturday evening. “Alive, alive – and not in body bags,” chanted demonstrators in Tel Aviv.

The organizers spoke of around 150,000 participants. It was the largest demonstration in Tel Aviv since the Islamist Hamas terrorist attack in Israel on October 7 last year. There were also mass protests against Netanyahu’s leadership in Jerusalem, Haifa and other places.

Yuval Diskin, former head of the domestic intelligence service Shin Bet, described Netanyahu at the rally in Tel Aviv as “the worst and most failed prime minister in the history of the state.” Diskin accused the government of mismanaging the war, “the lie of ‘total victory,’ the total evasion of responsibility” and the “destruction of our strategic relations with the United States.” Netanyahu’s government is missing “every opportunity to return our kidnapped brothers and sisters.”

The Wall Street Journal recently reported that the number of abductees still alive could be as low as 50. Officially, there are still around 120 hostages in Gaza.

During the mass protests against Netanyahu’s government in Tel Aviv, there were scuffles with the police and several people were arrested. The police minister is the right-wing extremist politician Itamar Ben-Gvir. Mounted officers tried to disperse some of the demonstrators with their horses. A video shows a police officer violently pushing a television journalist to the side.

The police violence during the demonstrations had “exceeded all limits,” railed the new chairman of the opposition Labor Party, Jair Golan, on Platform X. The police must not become “a tool in the hands of the corrupt and failed government,” he wrote.

For months, the mediators USA, Qatar and Egypt have been trying to persuade Israel to agree to a ceasefire and Hamas to release the abducted people in exchange for Palestinian prisoners in Israeli prisons – so far without success. Netanyahu and Blinken accuse Hamas of being intransigent and blame it for the stagnation in the indirect negotiations. Hamas, in turn, sees Israel as having a duty. The Islamists’ main demands are an immediate ceasefire and a complete withdrawal of Israeli troops from the Gaza Strip.