Netanyahu says Israel ‘prepared for very intense operation’ on Lebanon border

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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Wednesday that Israel was “prepared for a very intense operation” along the border with Lebanon, where Israeli troops have exchanged near-daily fire with Hezbollah fighters.

Exchanges between Israel and the Iran-backed Hezbollah movement, a Hamas ally, have intensified over the past week, with repeated Israeli strikes deeper into Lebanese territory.

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“We are prepared for a very intense operation in the north. One way or another, we will restore security to the north,” Netanyahu said during a visit to the border area earlier on Wednesday.

The prime minister’s far-right coalition partners National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir and Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich have both called in recent days for urgent action to restore security to northern Israel.

“They burn us here, all Hezbollah strongholds should also burn and be destroyed. WAR!” Ben Gvir said on Tuesday in a Telegram post.

Smotrich said on Monday: “We must move the security strip from inside Israeli territory in the Galilee to southern Lebanon, including a ground invasion, occupation of the territory and distancing Hezbollah terrorists and hundreds of thousands of Lebanese among whom Hezbollah hides to the other side of the Litani river,” nearly 30 kilometers (20 miles) north of the border.

The violence since early October has killed at least 455 people in Lebanon, mostly fighters but including 88 civilians, according to an AFP tally.

On the Israeli side, at least 14 soldiers and 11 civilians have been killed, according to the army.

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