Photo Credit: Ayal Margolin/Flash90
Smoke rises from an IDF base after it was hit by an anti-tank missile fired by Hezbollah terrorists from Lebanon, December 8, 2023.

From discussions that took place recently in the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Security Committee it appears that, contrary to the public messages of political and military leaders regarding pushing Hezbollah’s Radwan Force deep into Lebanon, completely different messages are being conveyed in talks between Israel and the United States and France regarding how far Hezbollah can be pushed, Reshet Bet Radio revealed Tuesday morning.

The al-Hajj Radwan Force is a special Hezbollah unit whose main mission is to infiltrate Israeli territory and harass with sporadic missile and mortar fire the civilian population of northern Israel.


On Sunday, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant held a situation assessment at the Northern Command, where he received an overview of the activities in the border area to thwart Hezbollah terrorists and damage the terrorist organization’s assets, and said: “We are hitting Hezbollah very hard.”

Speaking about bringing back the evacuated Israeli residents of the settlements along the Lebanese border, Gallant asserted: “One of two things is required in order to return the residents, either a consensual action that we are interested in, whereby a different situation will be established, or we will bring about a different reality, through military action.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu echoed the same idea in an appearance before the Foreign Affairs and Security Committee, namely that Israel would strive to fully implement UN Resolution 1701 this time, creating a buffer zone reaching up to the Litani River beyond which Hezbollah will be relocated, with the understanding that without this change, the residents of the north will not agree to return to the settlements near the border.

The Litani River stretches some 28 kilometers (15 miles) north of the border, however, according to Reshet Bet, a week later, at another discussion held by the Foreign Affairs and Security Committee, a senior political official admitted that although Israel outwardly talks about the Litani River line, in talks with American and French mediators, Israel says it would settle for the removal of Hezbollah to a distance of only a few kilometers from the border.

The committee members were told reportedly that in such a situation Hezbollah’s infrastructure would not be evacuated from the area, not even to the point where the terrorist organization would be relocated. This means that the weapons warehouses, military positions, and other Hezbollah infrastructure will remain in place, including its assets near the border.


According to Ynet, Hezbollah began publishing the names of its members who have been killed since the start of the fighting in the north, alongside the names of their home towns and villages. From that list, it appears that the absolute majority of Hezbollah’s dead resided in southern Lebanon, along the Israeli Border. So far, the terrorist organization has announced the death of 126 members, although Israeli estimates are higher. Defense Minister Gallant said on Monday that Israel had killed about 150 Hezbollah terrorists.

This fact explains why Hezbollah is unable to move north of the river, even if it agreed to it. The Qatari newspaper Al-Araby Al-Jadid cited a Hezbollah official two weeks ago who said, “Removing Radwan forces from the border makes no sense because they include people from border towns and villages who live and work there and join the battle when it happens. Therefore, they will not leave their lands.”

Not peacefully, anyway. This also explains the reluctance of American and French officials to support an all-out Israeli military effort to cleanse the buffer zone that was established by UN Resolution 1701 of Hezbollah: after almost 20 years of turning a blind eye to Hezbollah’s takeover of south Lebanon, the buffer zone is no longer made up of innocent Lebanese villagers and Hezbollah fighters. It’s Hezbollah all the way down, to paraphrase the old lady who espoused the view that the earth stood on top of four elephants who stood on top of a big turtle.

Netanyahu’s war cabinet apparently cannot count on American military support should it decide to make good on Minister Gallant’s threat. It must therefore consider launching a full-on attack without help from US planes and Tomahawk missiles, and also risking a shooting war with Syria and Iran at the same time.

It would explain why they are willing to settle for a lot less than the full implementation of resolution 1701.


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