Evacuated citizens from northern Israel won’t return to their homes until Israel has dealt with the threat of the terror organization Hezbollah in Lebanon, Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant stated on Wednesday.
The heads of the local authorities of Israel’s northern border communities demanded a meeting with the defense minister to receive an estimate on how long their residents would have to remain war refugees.
Gallant promised them that the residents would only be returned after Hezbollah forces were removed to the north of the Litani River, either through diplomatic means according to UN resolution 1701, or by force.
“We will return the residents to their homes only when conditions are created to do so and we will be sure that we can give them protection, which will be built on a different scope of forces… there will be other security elements, there will be an overall defense concept with a different scope and presence,” Gallant stated.
He also said that after the fighting in the Gaza Strip is completed, the main military effort would be directed to the north because of the much bigger threat posed by Hezbollah.
“There is one possibility that we will reach a different agreement, which could be similar to the 1701 agreement, mediated by international parties… the second possibility is that we are forced to do this thing by force. We don’t want war, but if we reach a situation where we need to establish security here, we will not hesitate - just as we didn’t hesitate in the south,” the defense minister said.
In 2006, UN Security Council Resolution 1701 ended the Second Lebanon War by forbidding Hezbollah's forces from maintaining a presence south of the Litani, some 30 kilometers (18 miles) north of the Israel-Lebanon border.
Meanwhile, Israel continued Gallant’s stated policy of “active defense” by initiating strikes on Hezbollah targets in Lebanon throughout Wednesday without waiting for the terror group to attack.
“Since the morning hours, the IDF has been attacking several areas in Lebanese territory with tanks and artillery fire,” the army stated, adding that an Israeli drone destroyed a Hezbollah command room and another site belonging to the terror group.
In addition, IDF aircraft struck an operational headquarters and more terrorist infrastructure in southern Lebanon.
Hezbollah claimed responsibility for 11 attacks against Israel on Wednesday.
The terror group’s rocket and anti-tank missile attacks targeted the areas of Margaliot, Mattat, Shtula, and IDF posts near the Bedouin village of Arab al-Aramshe and on Mount Hermon, without causing substantial damage or injuries.
Also on Wednesday, Hezbollah announced the death of another one of its terrorists, bringing the total number of militants killed by Israeli retaliatory attacks to 90 since Oct. 8, when the daily skirmishes between Israel and Hezbollah first began.
The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.