Hezbollah clashes on Lebanon border complicate Israel’s plans for Gaza ground invasion/Telegraph

Israel is reportedly delaying its ground invasion of Gaza because of an increasingly complicated situation along its northern border with Lebanon, where clashes with Hezbollah continue to intensify.


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Israel’s Channel 14, which is believed to be close to Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, on Sunday cited unnamed officials as saying that the escalation of violence along the Lebanese frontier meant “we shouldn’t enter Gaza now”.

Mr Netanyahu himself warned Hezbollah against “making the mistake of its life” by entering the war, during a visit to troops stationed near the border on Sunday, amid fears that the Iran-backed group may try to open up a second front.

“We will cripple it with a force it cannot imagine and the consequences for it and the Lebanese state are devastating,” he said.

Clashes between the Israeli military and Hezbollah have steadily escalated in the past week, forcing Israel to order an unprecedented evacuation from dozens of communities in the border region, which is home to some 200,000 people.

On Monday, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said that it had hit four Hezbollah cells operating on the border with Lebanon overnight.

“Our forces struck Hezbollah terrorist infrastructure in Lebanon, including a military compound and an observation post,” the IDF said.

Hezbollah, which is armed with tens of thousands of rockets, said on Monday that one of its fighters had been killed, without providing further details.

Israel’s military has said that seven of its soldiers have been killed since cross-border fighting erupted in the wake of Hamas’s attack on southern Israel on Oct 7.

Hezbollah says that at least 19 of its fighters have died.

The violence has also killed civilians and journalists, including a Beirut-based reporter with Reuters who was killed in a suspected Israeli artillery strike on the border.

Separately, the United States has reportedly been pushing Israel to delay the ground invasion, citing hopes for a broad deal to release the estimated 200 hostages held in Gaza.

Washington still supports Israel’s plan to launch the incursion but it is keen to avoid civilian deaths in Gaza and ensure that a humanitarian corridor is established for aid to enter the enclave and foreign nationals to leave, unnamed US officials quoted by The New York Times said on Sunday.

The IDF has been issuing daily updates on its battle readiness, hinting that its troops are preparing to enter Gaza imminently.The funeral of a member of Hezbollah, which said on Monday that one of its fighters had been killed, without providing further details CREDIT: Manu Brabo/Getty Images Europe

Last week, Yoav Gallant, the Israeli defence minister, told troops massed on the border of the enclave that they would soon see “inside” Gaza, promising that the order to invade would come soon.

Mr Netanyahu’s government has vowed to “wipe out” Hamas with the anticipated offensive but despite the rhetoric, no command has come yet.

Several Israeli media outlets cited defence officials as saying during the weekend that the military is frustrated that it still has not received the order to invade.

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