Israeli official warns of Hezbollah's 'trap' amid possible hostage deal

Senior official warns chances of reaching political agreement with Hamas remain low and says Israel should continue striking Hezbollah in Lebanon in case of potential pause in Gaza

A senior Israeli official said Thursday that the likelihood of reaching a political arrangement in the northern border which would push Hezbollah deeper into Lebanon, currently stands at 30%. According to him, Israel continues to give a chance to the diplomatic process, and despite skepticism, hopes for positive results. U.S. special envoy Amos Hochstein will arrive in Israel next week to discuss this.
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However, Israel is concerned about a scenario where a hostage deal with Hamas could lead to a pause in fighting in Gaza, causing Hezbollah to hold its fire – as was the case in the previous deal. In such a case, Israel would face a difficult problem, as it wouldn’t be able to return displaced residents to their homes without Hezbollah withdrawing at least 8-10 km away from the Lebanon border.
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חסן נסראללה
חסן נסראללה
Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah
For this reason, the senior official said Israel must continue operations against Hezbollah even in the case of it halts hostilities. "We can’t fall into this trap and hold our fire, even if Hezbollah does," he said. "The residents won’t agree to return to their homes unless Hezbollah withdraws from the border significantly”
The senior official acknowledged that despite tensions in the north, both sides don’t want to start a war.
The one leading the attempts to reach a political agreement between Israel and Lebanon is Biden's envoy, Hochstein. France is also taking part but isn’t involved in direct negotiations. Instead, it talks about the issue with the Lebanese regarding the Lebanese army and UNIFIL, which plays a significant role in any future arrangement made with Hezbollah.
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יואב גלנט בהערכת מצב בחאן יונס שברצועת עזה
יואב גלנט בהערכת מצב בחאן יונס שברצועת עזה
Defense Minister Yoav Gallant
(Photo: Shahar Yorman)
Meanwhile, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant told a delegation of UN ambassadors, visiting Israel along with Israel’s Ambassador to the UN Gilad Erdan, that the time remaining before Israel takes action in the northern border is “growing short.” Gallant emphasized Israel prefers to settle matters diplomatically but is also preparing the military option at the same time.
Meanwhile, IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi toured the northern border on Thursday and talked with soldiers and commanders safeguarding the northern border since Hamas' October 7 attack.
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