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Smotrich calls for Hezbollah withdrawal or takeover of southern Lebanon after dozens of attacks over the weekend

Hezbollah continues attacking, destroys 4-6 houses per week in Metula alone

Minister of Finance and Head of the Religious Zionist Party Bezalel Smotrich leads a faction meeting in northern Israel, May 19, 2024. (Photo: Ayal Margolin/Flash90)

Following another weekend of attacks from Hezbollah forces in southern Lebanon, Israel’s Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich called for an ultimatum demanding the terrorists withdraw or for the Israeli military to capture southern Lebanon.

“A public ultimatum must be issued to Hezbollah that they completely stop firing and withdraw all forces beyond the Litani River,” Smotrich said during a meeting of his Religious Zionism party that was held in the Galilee region.

“If the ultimatum is not fully met, the IDF must launch an operation deep into Lebanese territory to defend the northern communities, including a ground incursion and Israeli military takeover of the southern Lebanese area,” he added.

The statement by Smotrich, who also serves in Israel's Ministry of Defense, was the first time an Israeli official demanded the IDF take over Lebanese territory since the terror group started its near-daily attacks against Israeli targets on Oct. 8 of last year.

“The way to bring the [evacuated] residents home to the north is through a military decision with a devastating assault on Hezbollah, its infrastructure and the destruction of its power,” he added.

Smotrich’s statements followed another weekend of intense fighting on the northern border, with Hezbollah launching over 100 rockets, drones, and missiles into Israel.

Prompted by Israel’s elimination of a senior commander in Hezbollah’s aerial array on Friday, the terror group launched approximately 75 rockets at Israel, dozens of which were intercepted.

Two Israelis were lightly wounded by explosions, Army Radio reported.

In response, the IDF struck Hezbollah targets in southern Lebanon, including compounds used by Hezbollah's air defense system that pose a threat to Israeli aircraft.

“The organization’s air defense system operates in a civilian environment while risking human lives in southern Lebanon. The IDF will not tolerate an infringement on the freedom of air operations and will act in attacks in the face of any threat,” the IDF stated after the strikes.

Another Israeli airstrike on Friday resulted in the death of a leading operative from the al-Jama’a al-Islamiyya terror group in eastern Lebanon, near the Syrian border.

Sharhabil al-Sayed was involved in terror activity in the eastern sector of southern Lebanon, according to the IDF.

In a formal announcement, the Lebanese branch of Hamas claimed al-Sayed to be a Hamas operative.

According to the Alma Research Center, the group al-Jama’a al-Islamiyya “operates fully under the auspices of the Lebanese Hamas and belongs to them.”

On Saturday, Hezbollah intensified its attacks against Israel, launching several assaults including two rockets aimed at Biranit and a drone that exploded in Yiftach.

The IDF stated on Sunday that approximately ten launches were detected in the area of ​​Malkia and Mount Dov in Israel, without resulting in any casualties.

The IDF continued its policy of shelling the areas in Lebanon from where attacks against Israel are launched, while the Israeli Air Force carried out more waves of airstrikes against Hezbollah targets across southern Lebanon.

Local council heads and mayors were set to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday to discuss the situation in their communities.

“Every week we lose between four and six houses, and nothing happens,” said David Azoulai, mayor of the town of Metula, which has been completely evacuated for more than seven months.

“They systematically hit the houses and eliminate street after street, like a targeted elimination. Their whole goal is to destroy our infrastructure here,” he told Ynet News.

Since the outbreak of the war, more than 170 houses (30%) of all houses in Metula have been destroyed in Hezbollah attacks.

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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