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Israel warns that it may return Lebanon to the Stone Age

Israel warns that it may return Lebanon to the Stone Age

Israel has warned it could send Lebanon “back to the stone age” as it prepares to move thousands of troops from war-torn Gaza to its northern border – as fears grow of war with Hezbollah.

During a visit to Washington to meet with US officials, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said Israel was keen to avoid another war with Iran-backed Lebanese Hezbollah – after weeks of exchanging fire with increasing frequency – but added that it was within their authority. To destroy their neighbor if they need to.

Galant said: “We do not want to enter into a war because it is not in Israel’s interest.” “We have the potential to return Lebanon to the Stone Age, but we do not want to do that.”

His comments came just two days after Benny Gantz, the former Israeli military chief who was one of three members of the war cabinet that convened over the Gaza war before resigning earlier this month, said the move could “plunge Lebanon completely into darkness.”

“We can plunge all of Lebanon into darkness and dismantle Hezbollah’s power in days,” Gantz said on Tuesday during a conference in Herzliya, a city north of Tel Aviv.

Netanyahu said on Monday that the Israeli military would soon look to “move some forces north” from Gaza to shore up the border with Lebanon, as the most intense phase of its offensive on Gaza comes to an end.

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In his first interview with Israeli media since the Hamas attack inside Israel on October 7, Netanyahu said the transfer was “first and foremost for defensive purposes” but that the situation on Israel’s northern border remains unstable.

Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Galant stands during a guard of honor at the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia.
Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Galant stands during a cordon of honor at the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia (Getty Images)
A man covers his eyes from smoke as civilians try to put out fires caused by several Israeli raids that hit targets next to the town's main road in Bint Jbeil, Lebanon.
A man covers his eyes from smoke as civilians try to put out fires caused by several Israeli raids that hit targets next to the town’s main road in Bint Jbeil, Lebanon. (Getty Images)

The Hamas attack led to the death of about 1,200 people and the taking of 250 others hostage. The ensuing Israeli offensive against Hamas, which runs the Gaza Strip, killed more than 37,700 Palestinians, according to the Gaza Ministry of Health.

Across Israel’s northern border in Lebanon, where Hamas-aligned Hezbollah has vowed to fight Israel until it ends its war in Gaza, at least 481 people, including 94 civilians, have been killed since October, according to AFP. On the Israeli side, at least 15 soldiers and 11 civilians were killed, according to Israel.

The three sets of comments were a rare sign of unity between the three former members of Israel’s now-defunct war cabinet, which consisted of Mr. Gallant, Mr. Gantz and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, as well as three observer members.

Gantz resigned along with secondary member Gadi Eisenkot due to Netanyahu’s failure to present a long-term plan for the war in Gaza.

Speaking to reporters after meeting with senior US officials in Washington, Gallant said he had discussed with his US counterparts the “day after” proposals put forward by Israel to govern Gaza after the war, and that they would include local Palestinians, regional partners and the United States. Although he added that it would be a “long and complex process.”

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Humanitarian relief organizations have warned that the lack of medical and food supplies to Gaza could lead to the deaths of countless Palestinians while border crossings remain closed.

Palestinian children suffering from malnutrition or chronic diseases such as cancer, wait with their family members at Nasser Hospital in Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip after they received permission from the Israeli army to leave the besieged Palestinian territories.
Palestinian children suffering from malnutrition or chronic diseases such as cancer, wait with their family members at Nasser Hospital in Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip after they received permission from the Israeli army to leave the besieged Palestinian territories. (AFP via Getty Images)

Palestinian officials said 21 children in critical condition were scheduled to leave the Gaza Strip on Thursday in the first medical evacuation since the Strip’s only travel crossing was closed in early May.

Family members tearfully bid farewell to the children as they and their companions leave Nasser Hospital in the southern Gaza Strip town of Khan Younis, heading to the Kerem Shalom goods crossing with Israel.

But Dr. Muhammad Zaqout, head of Gaza’s hospitals, said in a press conference at Nasser Hospital that more than 25,000 patients in Gaza need treatment abroad, including about 980 children with cancer, a quarter of whom need “urgent and immediate evacuation.”

He described the evacuation of 21 children as “a drop in the ocean,” adding that the complex route through Kerem Shalom and into Egypt could not be an alternative to the Rafah crossing, a much larger route to the west.