Photo Credit: Defense Ministery
DM Yoav Gallant vists the northern front, November 26, 2023.

Defense Minister Yoav Gallant on Sunday told reporters during a tour of the northern border that Israeli achievements against Hezbollah since the beginning of the war have been considerable:

“We killed more than 100 Hezbollah terrorists, destroyed many dozens of observation posts, warehouses, bunkers, and headquarters, and forced the Hezbollah forces back from the front to deeper in the country.”


Gallant’s statement came as a huge surprise after the IDF had reported early Friday morning that fighter jets attacked Hezbollah targets in Lebanon, adding that the forces attacked and destroyed launch positions from which shots were fired at Israel in recent days and military sites from which the organization’s terrorists operated. And on Friday afternoon, the IDF reported on additional rockets launched at various sites in northern Israel, and the counterattack of Israeli warplanes.

And then there was Moshe Davidovich, head of the Mate Asher Regional Council and chairman of the Line of Conflict Forum, who told Maariv: “I am outraged by the defense minister’s words. This is a hallucination! If the Minister of Defense thinks that the residents of the north will be Kfar Gaza 2 – he is wrong! Our children will not be cannon fodder. They will not fool us! We demand that the Israeli government keep Hezbollah and the elite Radwan force behind the Litani River. Our residents will not return to their homes to become human shields!”

Davidovich added: “We see the whites in the eyes of the terrorists who are clinging to the fences, so Gallant’s statements are outrageous, and they are like throwing sand in the eyes of the residents who left their homes on the northern border and are stranded in hotels for more than 50 days.”

“The conditions are the same,” the council head said. “Hezbollah is persisting with the same attempts to hit, kill, and harm our residents. We will not allow the Minister of Defense, whose clarity is questionable, to let us become Be-eri number 2, or Kfar Gaza number 3. His statements are disconnected from the reality of the residents of the north and the conflict line.”

Hezbollah, for its part, announced last Wednesday that it planned to honor the four-day truce between Israel and Hamas that was scheduled for Thursday morning, without being a signatory to the deal. According to Al Jazeera, citing a Hezbollah source, the Lebanese terror group also said it would respond to any Israeli violation of the “truce.” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu responded that Israel had made no such truce and would act against Hezbollah based on its actions, not its declarations.

Gallant suggested that the combination of all the achievements he listed would translate into a different situation, allowing the return of the 70 thousand or so residents under completely different conditions.

But Ynet military correspondent Yair Kraus argued that Gallant’s boast was based on his definition of what it means to push Hezbollah back “deeper in the country.”

“Gallant is mistaken when he states that “we will translate the military achievements and the withdrawal of Hezbollah from the front into a situation that will allow the return of the residents of the north under different conditions than when we opened the campaign.” The residents of the north do not expect any “translation of achievements” but a decisive campaign (which has not even started yet) fought to the end. The security apparatus will no longer put the residents of the Lebanon envelope to sleep. The families will not return to their homes until Hezbollah is pushed beyond the Litani,” Kraus tweeted.

The Litani River, 29 km. north of Israel’s border / Google MapsThe Litani River first gained its political and military importance in 1976, when then Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin tried to enlist US support in establishing the river as the line north of which Lebanese and Syrian forces would be allowed, but their moving south of the river would be tantamount to a declaration of war. In 1978, Defense Minister Ariel Sharon embarked on the first Lebanese War, dubbed “Peace for Galilee,” to push the PLO north of the Litani. Finally, under the 2006 United Nations Security Council Resolution 1701, Hezbollah agreed to disarm its forces south of the Litani River, but not to pull its forces out of southern Lebanon.

In 2023, very few Israeli residents of the northern border communities would agree to return home unless Hezbollah is driven, by peaceful means or otherwise, north of the Litani River.

And they won’t accept anything less than that from DM Gallant.


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