Aswat Asharq Al-Awsat :

Aswat Asharq Al-Awsat : Israel’s Military Finalizes Plans for War against Hezbollah in Lebanon

A fire blazes on the Israeli side of the Israel-Lebanon border following attacks from Lebanon, amid cross-border hostilities between Hezbollah and Israeli forces, in northern Israel June 18, 2024. REUTERS/Ayal Margolin
A fire blazes on the Israeli side of the Israel-Lebanon border following attacks from Lebanon, amid cross-border hostilities between Hezbollah and Israeli forces, in northern Israel June 18, 2024. REUTERS/Ayal Margolin
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Israel’s Military Finalizes Plans for War against Hezbollah in Lebanon

A fire blazes on the Israeli side of the Israel-Lebanon border following attacks from Lebanon, amid cross-border hostilities between Hezbollah and Israeli forces, in northern Israel June 18, 2024. REUTERS/Ayal Margolin
A fire blazes on the Israeli side of the Israel-Lebanon border following attacks from Lebanon, amid cross-border hostilities between Hezbollah and Israeli forces, in northern Israel June 18, 2024. REUTERS/Ayal Margolin

Israel’s military said it has “approved and validated” operational plans for an offensive in Lebanon as months of fighting with Hezbollah threaten to spiral into a full-blown war.

The military statement did not promise an imminent Israeli offensive in Lebanon — any plans must still be vetted by Israel’s leaders. But it appeared to indicate that after months of tit-for-tat fighting, the army wants to show it's prepared for tougher action. The military did not specify what the plans entailed.

It came as the US tries to broker a diplomatic solution to the cross-border conflict and avert a major escalation. Amos Hochstein, a senior advisor to US President Joe Biden, was meeting with officials in Beirut Tuesday in an attempt to quell tensions.

Israel and the Iranian-backed Hezbollah have exchanged fire across the border almost daily since the Israel-Hamas war broke out in October.

Last week, the group launched hundreds of drones and rockets at Israel after Israel killed a senior commander. Israel retaliated with heavy strikes on Hezbollah targets. Israeli strikes have killed more than 400 people in Lebanon, including 70 civilians. On Israel’s side, 16 soldiers and 10 civilians have been killed.

Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz warned on Tuesday that a decision on an all-out war with Hezbollah was coming soon.

Katz said in an X post that in the wake of threats by Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah to damage Haifa's ports that are operated by Chinese and Indian companies, "we are getting very close to the moment of deciding on changing the rules of the game against Hezbollah and Lebanon.”

"In an all-out war, Hezbollah will be destroyed and Lebanon will be severely beaten," he added.



Aswat Asharq Al-Awsat : Israeli Forces Pull Back after Gaza City Offensive, Leaving Dozens of Bodies

Palestinians gather as they inspect the damages after Israeli forces withdrew from a part of Gaza City, following a ground operation, amid the Israel-Hamas conflict, in Gaza City, July 12, 2024. REUTERS/Dawoud Abu Alkas
Palestinians gather as they inspect the damages after Israeli forces withdrew from a part of Gaza City, following a ground operation, amid the Israel-Hamas conflict, in Gaza City, July 12, 2024. REUTERS/Dawoud Abu Alkas
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Israeli Forces Pull Back after Gaza City Offensive, Leaving Dozens of Bodies

Palestinians gather as they inspect the damages after Israeli forces withdrew from a part of Gaza City, following a ground operation, amid the Israel-Hamas conflict, in Gaza City, July 12, 2024. REUTERS/Dawoud Abu Alkas
Palestinians gather as they inspect the damages after Israeli forces withdrew from a part of Gaza City, following a ground operation, amid the Israel-Hamas conflict, in Gaza City, July 12, 2024. REUTERS/Dawoud Abu Alkas

Israeli forces retreated from some Gaza City districts overnight after a fierce, week-long military offensive, leaving dozens of dead and wrecked homes and roads in the Palestinian enclave's biggest urban area, residents and rescue service said on Friday.

The offensive, 10 months into Israel's campaign to eliminate Hamas militants, took place as US-backed mediators sought to finalize a peace deal that would free remaining hostages taken by the militants in their cross-border rampage on Oct. 7.

According to Reuters, the Gaza Civil Emergency Service said teams had collected around 60 bodies of Palestinians killed by Israeli forces over the past week from the area of Tel Al-Hawa and the edges of the Sabra neighborhood in Gaza City.

Both residents and rescue teams cautioned that while tanks withdrew from some areas, Israeli snipers and tanks continued to control high ground at some locations, and warned residents against trying to return to their homes in those areas.

"There are bodies scattered in the streets, dismembered bodies, there are bodies of entire families, there are also bodies inside a home of an entire family that was completely burned," Gaza Strip Civil Defense spokesperson Mahmoud Basal said in comments carried by media in Hamas-run Gaza.

The Israeli military had said on Thursday that its forces were working to dismantle Hamas capabilities in Gaza City, and that it "follows international law and takes feasible precautions to mitigate civilian harm." It said the same was not true of Hamas.

The armed wings of Hamas and the Islamic Jihad said they had fought fierce battles against Israeli forces, attacking them with anti-tank rockets and mortar fire, killing and wounding many. There has been no Israeli army comment on those claims.

Home to more than a quarter of Gaza's residents before the war, Gaza City was largely razed to the ground in late 2023, but hundreds of thousands of Palestinians have returned to homes in the ruins. Israel has once again ordered them out, though it is unclear where residents can go safely. Israel controls most of Gaza's borders and is also attacking central and southern Gaza.