Israeli forces approve operational plans for an offensive in Lebanon

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The Israeli military said Tuesday operational plans for an offensive in Lebanon were “approved and validated”, as Israeli forces and the Iran-backed Hezbollah movement engaged in cross-border exchanges of fire.

Senior Israeli military officials “held a joint situational assessment in the Northern Command. As part of the situational assessment, operational plans for an offensive in Lebanon were approved and validated,” the military said in a statement.

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“Decisions were taken on the continuation of increasing the readiness of troops in the field.”

Lebanon’s Hezbollah, a Hamas ally, and Israel have been trading near-daily fire since the Gaza war was trigged by the Palestinian militant group’s October 7 attack on southern Israel.

The sign-off came as Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz earlier warned Hezbollah that it would be destroyed in the event of a “total war” between the two.

“We are very close to the moment when we will decide to change the rules of the game against Hezbollah and Lebanon. In a total war, Hezbollah will be destroyed and Lebanon will be hit hard,” Katz said, according to a statement from his office.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said this month that the military was ready for an intense operation in Lebanon if necessary, pledging to restore security to the country’s northern border.

US special envoy Amos Hochstein was in Lebanon on Tuesday a day after meeting Israeli leaders, seeking “urgent” de-escalation on the Israel-Lebanon border.

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