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Netanyahu announces winding down of Gaza operation, redeployment of troops to Lebanon border

Netanyahu announces winding down of Gaza operation, redeployment of troops to Lebanon border Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (photo: Getty Images)

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday that the current phase of military operations against Hamas in the Gaza Strip is winding down, creating conditions for redeploying more troops to the northern border to counter the Lebanese Hezbollah group, according to AP.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a lengthy television interview that while the army is close to completing its current ground offensive in the southern Gaza city of Rafah, it does not mean that the war against Hamas is over. However, he said that fewer troops would be needed in Gaza, freeing up forces to deal with Hezbollah.

"We will have the possibility of transferring some of our forces north, and we will do that. First and foremost, for defense," he said, adding that this will also allow tens of thousands of displaced Israelis to return home.

Netanyahu expressed hope for a diplomatic resolution to the crisis but promised to address the issue differently if necessary. "We can fight on several fronts and we are prepared to do that," he said.

The Israeli premier stated that the Gaza offensive is winding down but that Israel will have to continue strikes aimed at preventing Hamas from regrouping.

Threat of an offensive

After the start of the war in the Gaza Strip, rocket attacks on Israeli territory by Hezbollah recognized as a terrorist organization by the governments of several countries, including the European Union, increased. In response, Israel has been striking Hezbollah targets in Lebanon.

On June 11, Israeli aircraft carried out another such strike. In the following days, Hezbollah fired over 100 rockets into Israeli territory.

On June 21-22, Israeli aircraft struck targets belonging to the organization in four areas in southern Lebanon.

Israeli officials have threatened a military offensive in Lebanon if negotiations to push Hezbollah away from the border do not yield results. Just a few days ago, the Israeli army announced that it had approved a plan for an offensive in Lebanon, although the US is trying to prevent cross-border attacks from escalating into a full-scale war.

US officials are trying to find a diplomatic solution to the conflict. It is expected that this issue will be raised this week at a meeting between Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant and US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin in Washington.

According to CNN, senior US officials have assured Israel of support in the event of a full-scale war with Hezbollah.

At the same time, President Joe Biden's senior advisor Amos Hochstein said in Beirut on Tuesday that the US is unlikely to be able to help Israel defend itself in a broader war with Hezbollah, just as they helped Israel repel an Iranian onslaught of rockets and drones in April. According to him, it is more difficult to defend against shorter-range rockets that Hezbollah regularly fires across the border into Israel.

Air Force Gen. CQ Brown, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, stated that Israel's military offensive in Lebanon could provoke a response from Iran, which could come to Hezbollah's defense, leading to an escalation of the war that could jeopardize US forces in the region.