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US rejects limited Israeli war in Lebanon, continues 2000-lb bomb freeze

After the statement by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accusing the Biden administration of halting arms shipments to Israel, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant went to Washington for damage control.
ARLINGTON, VIRGINIA - JUNE 25: U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant walk into the Pentagon on June 25, 2024 in Arlington, Virginia. Their meeting comes a day after Gallant and U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken sat down together to discuss Gaza and Lebanon. (Photo by Andrew Harnik/Getty Images)

TEL AVIV — Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant arrived in Washington this week for talks aimed at limiting the damage his boss, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, has inflicted on US-Israeli relations and to pitch the idea of a limited Israeli war against Hezbollah in southern Lebanon. 

Gallant tried to sell the Americans on the option of a limited confrontation, a small war, so to say, to push Hezbollah forces away from the Lebanese-Israeli border, a senior Israeli political source told Al-Monitor.

Gallant reportedly explained that the tens of thousands of Israeli residents in the border area who were forced to leave their homes almost nine months ago will refuse to return as long as the enemy is on their doorstep, given the trauma of the Oct. 7 Hamas onslaught on border communities along the Gaza border. Residents of the north, he added, are well aware that Hezbollah is a far stronger and better-armed enemy than Hamas. Israel must find a solution to this ongoing tragedy, he said.

According to the source, Gallant’s hosts rejected the idea of a limited war focused on a 10-kilometer (6.2-mile) strip north of the Israeli-Lebanese border, in Lebanese territory. The defense minister’s interlocutors warned him that an Israeli incursion into southern Lebanon would draw Hezbollah’s patron, Iran, into the fray. An Iranian response would, in turn, provoke an Israeli reaction, immediately sparking a regional war, Gallant was told. 

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