Defense Minister Yoav Gallant meets mayors and heads of councils located near the Lebanon border in the north, promising them that their communities — evacuated since frequent border skirmishes began in October in the shadow of the war against Hamas — will not be returned home until the Iran-backed Hezbollah terror group is driven north of the Litani River, according to Hebrew media reports.
UN Security Council Resolution 1701, which ended the Second Lebanon War in 2006, barred Hezbollah from maintaining a military presence south of the Litani, which is located some 30 kilometers (18 miles) north of the Israel-Lebanon border. Hezbollah has blatantly violated that resolution and regularly launches attacks on Israel from near the border.
During the tense meeting in Nahariya, Gallant says the best option for Israel is to reach a diplomatic arrangement that will cause Resolution 1701 to be enforced.
If that doesn’t succeed, Gallant tells the local leaders, Israel will “act with all the means at its disposal” to push Hezbollah back through military actions.
Some 80,000 residents of communities located up to 10 kilometers south of the Lebanon border have been evacuated and are temporarily staying in hotels and other facilities, with funding from the state. Many have voiced concern that they will be exposed to dangers once they return home, if Hezbollah isn’t pushed away from the border area.