January 4, 2024 | Flash Brief

Israel: Time Running Out for Hezbollah to Back Off

January 4, 2024 | Flash Brief

Israel: Time Running Out for Hezbollah to Back Off

Latest Developments

Time is running out for a diplomatic deal that would lead to the removal of Hezbollah from Lebanon’s border with Israel, Jerusalem warned a U.S. envoy on January 4. As it shifts gears on the almost three-month old war against Hamas in Gaza, Israel has signaled willingness to escalate the daily cross-border exchanges of fire with Hezbollah, another Iranian proxy.

Amos Hochstein, senior adviser to U.S. President Joe Biden, visited Israel as part of a regional trip expected to also include Lebanon. Hosting him, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant alluded to Israel’s efforts to effect a Hezbollah withdrawal from the border through American, French, and Arab mediation — and threats to step up military force if the indirect outreach fails.

“Yet we find ourselves at a junction. There is a short window of time for diplomatic understandings, which we prefer,” Gallant told Hochstein, according to an Israeli Defense Ministry statement. “We will not tolerate the threats posed by the Iranian proxy, Hezbollah, and we will ensure the security of our citizens.”

Between 80,000 and 100,000 residents of communities on Israel’s northern border have fled the Hezbollah attacks, which have killed nine soldiers and four civilians. Many of the displaced have demanded, as a precondition for returning home, a guarantee that Hezbollah will be unable to replicate the October 7 cross-border killing and kidnapping rampage by Hamas in the south.

Expert Analysis

“In October 2022, the Biden administration proudly secured a maritime energy demarcation deal between Lebanon and Israel that was sold to Jerusalem as putting the brakes on Hezbollah’s belligerence. Those assumptions were blown apart less than a year later. Let us hope that, having been schooled by reality, they can now impress upon the Lebanese that Hezbollah’s recklessness could soon lead to their entire country’s ruination.” — Mark Dubowitz, FDD CEO

“Diplomacy alone has failed for 17 years to enforce a UN Security Council resolution requiring the disarming of Hezbollah south of the Litani River. The Iran-backed Hezbollah threat has grown more dangerous every year despite America pouring billions of dollars into the Lebanese Armed Forces and the UN Interim Force in Lebanon. As a democracy under threat and in the wake of October 7, Israel has to have a bottom line.” — Richard Goldberg, FDD Senior Advisor

Rockets Fired From Syria Target Israel,” FDD Flash Brief

UN Peacekeeper Injured After Mob Attack on Convoy in Southern Lebanon,” FDD Flash Brief

Hezbollah’s Provocations Wear Israel’s Patience Thin,” FDD Flash Brief


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