Top Israeli generals approve Lebanon offensive battle plans, army says

IDF says commanders also made decisions on ‘accelerating the readiness of the forces on the ground,’ as fighter jets strike Hezbollah targets

Emanuel (Mannie) Fabian is The Times of Israel's military correspondent

The head of IDF Northern Command Maj. Gen. Ori Gordin (left) and head of the Operations Directorate Maj. Gen. Oded Basiuk (right) hold an assessment, July 18, 2024. (Israel Defense Forces)
The head of IDF Northern Command Maj. Gen. Ori Gordin (left) and head of the Operations Directorate Maj. Gen. Oded Basiuk (right) hold an assessment, July 18, 2024. (Israel Defense Forces)

The head of the IDF’s Northern Command Maj. Gen. Ori Gordin and head of the Operations Directorate Maj. Gen. Oded Basiuk approved Lebanon battle plans on Tuesday, the military said, following a recent intensification of cross-border fighting with Hezbollah.

In a statement, the IDF said the generals held an assessment, during which “operational plans for an offensive in Lebanon were approved.”

The top commanders also made decisions regarding “accelerating the readiness of the forces on the ground,” the military added.

The announcement came amid repeated attacks by Hezbollah and allied Palestinian terror groups in Lebanon on northern Israel, with fears of a wider conflict.

Israel has warned it can no longer tolerate Hezbollah’s presence along its border following the October 7 atrocities, and has warned that should a diplomatic solution not be reached, it will turn to military action to push Hezbollah northward.

Meanwhile, the military said Tuesday night that Israeli air defenses shot down a suspected drone over the sea just off the coast of Gesher HaZiv in northern Israel, close to Lebanon.

No sirens sounded “according to protocol,” according to the army.

The IDF also said fighter jets struck several Hezbollah targets in southern Lebanon, including infrastructure in Taybeh, Odaisseh, and Jebbayn, and a building in Ayta ash-Shab.

Earlier Tuesday, Hezbollah released footage from what it said was one of its reconnaissance drones flying over northern Israel, including the Haifa port. It was unclear when the roughly 10 minutes of footage released by Hezbollah were captured, and the Israel Defense Forces did not immediately comment on the video.

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

Hezbollah has been carrying out near-daily attacks since October 8, in what it says is a show of support for Palestinians and Hamas in its war with Israel in the Gaza Strip.

So far, the near-daily skirmishes on the border have resulted in 10 civilian deaths on the Israeli side, as well as the deaths of 15 IDF soldiers and reservists. Across the border, Hezbollah has named 343 members who have been killed by Israel, mostly in Lebanon but some also in Syria. In Lebanon, another 63 operatives from other terror groups, a Lebanese soldier, and dozens of civilians have been killed.

Times of Israel staff and agencies contributed to this report.

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