Written by 21:56 World

Biden Adviser Visits Israel as Military Warns of ‘Wider Escalation’ With Hezbollah

A White House adviser met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem on Monday as the Israeli military warned that the Lebanese militia Hezbollah was risking a wider confrontation with its cross-border strikes against Israel.

The adviser, Amos Hochstein, who has overseen previous talks between Israel and Lebanon, was meeting with Israeli leaders amid swelling concerns that the confrontation with Hezbollah, a powerful militia and Lebanese political faction backed by Iran, could grow into all-out war. Several Israeli news outlets reported that Mr. Hochstein was holding talks aimed at preventing a further escalation.

In a post on social media late Sunday night, the Israeli military’s chief spokesman, Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari, said: “Hezbollah’s increasing aggression is bringing us to the brink of what could be a wider escalation — one that could have devastating consequences for Lebanon and the entire region.”

His comments echoed a threat that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made earlier this month, days after Hezbollah launched a barrage of rockets and exploding drones from Lebanon into northern Israel.

“Whoever thinks he can hurt us and we will respond by sitting on our hands is making a big mistake,” Mr. Netanyahu said, according to his government, while visiting soldiers and firefighters in northern Israel. “We are prepared for very intense action in the north.”

Israel’s conflict with Hezbollah is intertwined with its battle against Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

Israel and Hezbollah have fired back and forth in the months since the Oct. 7 assault on Israel by Hamas, another Iran-backed group, set off the war in Gaza. More than 150,000 people on both sides of the Israel-Lebanon border have been displaced by the fighting there.

Hezbollah’s attacks have gradually intensified, with the group using larger and more sophisticated weapons to strike more often and deeper beyond the border. Both sides have refrained from engaging in full-blown war, but the tension has increased in the past week.

Last Tuesday, an Israeli strike targeted and killed Taleb Abdallah, one of Hezbollah’s senior commanders, prompting the group to step up its own attacks the next day.

Two days later, the Israeli military said that its fighter jets had struck “Hezbollah military structures” overnight in Lebanese border villages. Then Hezbollah launched what Israeli officials called the most serious rocket and drone assault in more than eight months of hostilities, a barrage that lasted into the evening.

The United States, France and other mediators have sought for months to curb the exchanges of fire.

President Emmanuel Macron of France said on Thursday that his country and the United States had agreed in principle to establish a trilateral group with Israel to “make progress” on a French proposal to end the violence. But Israel’s defense minister, Yoav Gallant, rejected that effort the next day, saying that France had adopted “hostile policies” toward Israel.

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Last modified: 18 June 2024
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