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Israel braces for possible Hezbollah attack as Lebanese border heats up

Israel is hoping that international pressure will convince Hezbollah to withdraw its Radwan commando units to the other side of the Litani River, but also prepares for a scenario where Hezbollah will refuse such a move.
Smoke billows from an area targeted in a rocket strike by Lebanese Hezbollah militants near Israel's border with Lebanon, amid increasing cross-border tensions as fighting continues with Hamas militants in the southern Gaza Strip, Nov. 23, 2023.

TEL AVIV — While the end of Israel’s ground invasion of the Gaza Strip appears on the horizon, with Israel convinced that Hamas is near breaking point, prospects of a major war are emerging on the Israel-Lebanon border, a war that could pale compared to the one Israel has been waging against Hamas since Oct. 7.

"Hamas is on the verge of dissolution,” Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said late Monday, citing the advancing military takeover of Hamas strongholds and the surrender of hundreds of its fighters in recent days. 

Although the group’s total collapse could take much longer, Israel’s juggernaut of tank columns, artillery, infantry and engineering units is expected to grind to a halt in January, to be replaced by focused raids into Gaza against Hamas holdouts. 

"When we complete the process of fighting in Gaza, the military effort will be directed mainly to the north,” Gallant said last week on a tour along Israel’s northern border. Diplomatic moves are underway to reach an agreement with Hezbollah on pushing its Radwan commando force beyond the Litani River, about 30 kilometers (18 miles) north of Israel’s border, but Gallant warned that failure of these efforts would result in the use of force. 

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