Israel open to deal with Hezbollah if security guaranteed on Lebanon border: Minister

Another official says increased attacks by Iran-backed Hezbollah demand of Israel to ‘remove such threat from the civilian population of northern Israel’

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Israel’s defense minister said Monday that his country was open to a possible agreement with Iran-backed Hezbollah if it included a safe zone along the border with Lebanon and other security guarantees.

“If Hezbollah will allow an agreement process, and I won’t go now into its details, but clearly it cannot be that it does not include a situation in which there is a safe distance from our fence to forces that could shoot into Israeli territory or forces that could take action inside Israel. If this is possible, with the appropriate guarantee, we can talk about it,” Yoav Gallant told reporters.

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Separately, Israeli minister Benny Gantz said he spoke to the top US diplomat on Monday and told him that the international community needed to ensure that the Lebanese state stops Hezbollah’s attacks on Israel.

“I expressed to the Secretary [Antony Blinken] that heightened aggression and increased attacks by Iranian-backed Hezbollah on Israel demand of Israel to remove such threat from the civilian population of northern Israel,” Gantz said in a post on X.

Israeli bombardment killed a local official in south Lebanon on Monday as, according to the state-run National News Agency, amid cross-border exchanges of fire mainly between the Israeli army and Hezbollah.

The Lebanese news agency reported the death of Hussein Mansour, 80, a local official from Taybeh near the border, “in an Israeli enemy attack” on the village.

Since the Israel-Hamas war began on October 7, the frontier between Lebanon and Israel has seen intensifying exchanges of fire, raising fears of a broader conflagration.

More than 120 people have been killed on the Lebanese side since October, mostly Hezbollah fighters but also including 17 civilians, according to an AFP tally.

Israel says six soldiers and four Israeli civilians have been killed in the country’s north.

The NNA reported Israeli shelling and raids in various parts of south Lebanon on Monday, while Hezbollah, an ally of Hamas, claimed responsibility for a series of attacks against Israeli troops and positions near the border.

Last week, the US said it was very concerned after Israeli strikes killed a Lebanese Armed Forces soldier and injured others. “The Lebanese Armed Forces is an essential institution, not only to the stability and security of Lebanon, but of the entire region,” a US official previously told Al Arabiya English.

The Israeli army issued a rare apology to “express regret” after the US comments, saying the incident was under review. A post on X from the Israeli army claimed that they were targeting a threat within a known launch area and observation point used by Hezbollah.

Washington has been working to contain the conflict to Gaza and has warned Israel against preemptive strikes on Lebanon. The US has also made clear to Lebanon and its officials that it cannot be a launchpad for attacks against Israel. US officials have repeatedly stressed that they do not want to see the conflict expand into Lebanon, saying it would be in no one’s interest.

With Agencies

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