Netanyahu Announces Shift of Israeli Forces to Lebanese Border

The prime minister has claimed the “intense phase” of fighting in Gaza is nearly over, clearing the way to confront Hezbollah

Israeli troops are set to shift their focus towards the country’s border with Lebanon to confront Hezbollah as the fighting against Hamas in the Gaza Strip draws to a close, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has announced.

Speaking on Sunday in his first Israeli television appearance since the war with Hamas began last October, Netanyahu stated that major combat operations in the Palestinian enclave are nearing completion. “It doesn’t mean that the war is about to end, but the war in its intense phase is about to end in Rafah,” he added. “This is true. We will continue mowing the grass all the time.”

With the majority of the troops in Gaza being released, the prime minister said, Israeli units will “face north.” The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) will be repositioned to the border region, where exchanges of rocket fire with Hezbollah have escalated in recent weeks. Israeli residents of the region have been evacuated since the war with Hamas began over eight months ago.

“We will have the possibility to shift some of the power north, and we will do it – first of all, for protection purposes, and secondly, to bring our residents home,” Netanyahu told Israel’s Channel 14 TV. “If we can, we will do this diplomatically. If not, we will do it another way, but we will bring all of them home.”

The growing tensions between West Jerusalem and Hezbollah have fueled US concerns that Israel will initiate a larger war in the Middle East, potentially involving American forces. Netanyahu dismissed these concerns, stating, “We can fight on several fronts, and we are prepared to do that.”

Israel has faced international condemnation for its military offensive in Rafah, which has endangered civilians in a city where over 1 million Palestinians have sought refuge after their neighborhoods in other parts of Gaza were bombarded. More than 37,000 Palestinians have been killed since the war began, according to Gaza health authorities. The latest conflict began when Hamas launched surprise attacks against southern Israeli villages, killing more than 1,100 people and taking hundreds of hostages back to Gaza.

Netanyahu suggested that he’s open to considering a ceasefire agreement to secure the release of an estimated 116 Israeli hostages still in captivity. However, he maintained that West Jerusalem’s objective remains the destruction of Hamas. The Iran-backed militant group has demanded a permanent ceasefire and a complete withdrawal of Israeli troops as part of any agreement to end the fighting.