Israel gearing up to attack Lebanon

TEL AVIV: The Israeli army has announced that plans for an offensive in Lebanon have been “approved and validated” amid escalating cross-border clashes with Hezbollah and a relative lull in Gaza fighting.

The war in Gaza has heightened tensions across the region, with Israeli forces and Lebanon’s Iran-backed Hezbollah, a Hamas ally, exchanging fire on a near-daily basis. “Operational plans for an offensive in Lebanon were approved and validated” as commanders met for a situational assessment, the army said in a statement.

This announcement followed Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz’s threat to destroy Hezbollah in a “total war.”

The warnings came after Israel announced a daily “pause” of military activity in Gaza’s southernmost city of Rafah to facilitate aid flows during the Muslim Eid al-Adha holiday. In central Gaza, witnesses reported gunfire and artillery shelling near the Nuseirat refugee camp, where the civil defense agency said at least 13 people were killed in two separate strikes on a family home and a commercial building.

Al-Awda hospital reported receiving the bodies of “six martyrs and 15 wounded” from Israeli air strikes on various areas in the central and southern Gaza Strip. Witnesses and the Hamas government media office also reported strikes and fighting in northern and central Gaza.

In a statement, the Israeli army said its operations continued Tuesday in central and southern Gaza, including Rafah city on the border with Egypt.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is facing mounting criticism at home over his handling of the Gaza war and the hostage crisis. The veteran right-wing leader invited the relatives of killed hostages to his home, several families told the media on Tuesday. However, one relative, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said she would decline the invitation, saying, “he remembered a little late to invite us.”

Thousands gathered in front of parliament in Jerusalem on Tuesday evening, calling for early elections and the resumption of negotiations for a hostage release deal, an AFP correspondent reported. “We are held hostage by an extreme-right government and we want this to stop,” said Marva, who has been demonstrating against Netanyahu for more than a year.

Moshe, a retired journalist, said, “Democracy is at stake.” He added, “We protest to save the country,” and expressed his aim to “bring down the Knesset,” Israel’s legislature. This marked the second day of a planned week of action in Jerusalem against Netanyahu and his government.


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