Top Israel official urges final ultimatum for Hezbollah in Lebanon

 May 19, 2024

This story was originally published by the WND News Center.

JERUSALEM – Israel's Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich on Sunday called for Israel to give Hezbollah a final ultimatum to vacate the border area in southern Lebanon – or face the prospect of IDF invasion to remove them by force.

Smotrich, who is also chairman of the Religious Zionism party, made his statement while visiting party colleagues in the country's north. At the meeting, he also called on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to make a clear announcement on Israel's long-term security policy – including a plan to deal with Hezbollah, arguing that, if necessary, military action would have to be taken to drive the terrorists deeper into Lebanon.

The finance minister was speaking as some 70,000 Israelis in the north of the country remain internally displaced, after they were advised to leave their homes following Hamas' invasion of southern communities on Oct. 7 and Hezbollah's constant – and daily – rocket attacks since Oct. 8.

"The way to bring the [evacuated Israeli] residents home in the north is through a military decision with a devastating assault on Hezbollah, its infrastructure and the destruction of its power," Smotrich said.

According to U.N. Resolution 1701, which brought an end to the hostilities between Israel and Hezbollah in the Second Lebanon War in 2006, Iran's Shiite proxy terrorist group is not permitted south of the Litani River – approximately 18 miles north of the Israel-Lebanon border.

That resolution – ratified in both Jerusalem and Beirut – also called for Hezbollah's disarmament. Instead, it has amassed one of the most fearsome missile arsenals – many of the precision-guided munitions – in the entire Middle East.

In a wide-ranging speech, Smotrich – who takes a maximalist approach to the borders of the state of Israel and who has advocated for reestablishing Jewish communities in the Gaza Strip – called on Israel's cabinet to agree to the permanent imposition of the IDF's full control over the entire Gaza Strip – north, center, and south, including Rafah.

In light of the discovery of dozens of smuggling tunnels that traverse the Egypt-Gaza border, Smotrich urged a military operation along the length of the Philadelphi corridor and total occupation of the city of Rafah, to prevent the scale of smuggling currently occurring.

In recent weeks, Hezbollah has ratcheted up its rate of fire against Israel, part of a concerted effort to try and exhaust its foe.

Military and political analysts in Israel have for some time argued that the issue of a Third Lebanon War is not a question of "if" but "when."

Having stockpiled such an arsenal of weapons, it seems unthinkable – given Iran's bellicosity – that it will not give Hezbollah the green light to unleash it against Israel.

For its part, Israel must decide whether to pre-emptively strike against its enemy – or respond to initial strikes.

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