Netanyahu: Israeli forces will move towards the Lebanese border

Netanyahu, Israeli forces will move towards the Lebanese border
Netanyahu, Israeli forces will move towards the Lebanese border

Israeli troops are ready to move to the country's border with Lebanon to confront Hezbollah as the war against Hamas in the Gaza Strip winds down, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has revealed.

Speaking in his first televised interview since the war with Hamas began last October, Netanyahu said major combat operations in the Palestinian enclave are almost over. "This does not mean that the war is about to end, but the war in its intense phase is about to end in Rafah," he added. "This is true. We'll keep mowing the grass all the time.”

With the release of many of the troops in Gaza, the prime minister said, Israeli units will "face the north". The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) will redeploy to the border region, where rocket exchanges with Hezbollah have intensified in recent weeks. Israeli residents of the region have been evacuated since the war with Hamas began more than eight months ago.

"We will have the opportunity to shift some of the power to the north and we will do it - first of all, for defense purposes, and secondly, to bring our residents home," Netanyahu told Israel's Channel 14 TV. "If we can, we will do it diplomatically. If not, we will do it in a different way, but we will bring everyone home.”

Rising tensions between West Jerusalem and Hezbollah have fueled US fears that Israel will trigger a wider war in the Middle East, dragging down US forces. Netanyahu dismissed such concerns, saying: "We can fight on several fronts and we are prepared to do so."

Israel withdrew international condemnation of its military offensive in Rafah, which endangered civilians in a city where more than 1 million Palestinians had taken refuge after their neighborhoods in other parts of Gaza were bombed. More than 37,000 Palestinians have been killed since the war began, according to Gaza health authorities. The latest conflict began when Hamas launched surprise attacks against Israel's southern countryside, killing more than 1,100 people and taking hundreds of hostages in Gaza.

Netanyahu suggested he is open to considering a cease-fire deal to secure the release of some 116 Israeli hostages still in captivity. However, he insisted that West Jerusalem's goal remains to destroy Hamas. The Iran-backed militant group has demanded a permanent ceasefire and a full withdrawal of Israeli troops as part of any deal to stop the fighting.


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