US special envoy, Israeli Defence Minister discuss tensions with Hezbollah
TEL AVIV — Visiting US special envoy Amos Hochstein and Israeli Defence Minister Yoav Gallant discussed the escalating tensions between the Jewish nation and the Lebanon-based Hezbollah militant group, according to the Defence Ministry here.
In a statement, the Ministry said that Hochstein, who arrived in Israel earlier on Thursday, discussed the possibility of a diplomatic understanding with Hezbollah that would help displaced people from northern Israel to return to their homes.
Following the meeting, Gallant said in a post on X they “discussed the security conditions that would allow the return of the residents of the north, and I emphasised to envoy Hochstein our commitment to changing the security situation at the border”.
“We prefer to do this through a political solution – but the window of time for this is short,” he added.
פגישה חשובה עם השליח המיוחד של נשיא ארה״ב, עמוס הוכשטיין.— יואב גלנט – Yoav Gallant (@yoavgallant) January 4, 2024
שוחחנו על התנאים הביטחוניים שיאפשרו את חזרת תושבי הצפון,
והדגשתי בפני השליח הוכשטיין את מחוייבתנו לשינוי המצב הביטחוני בגבול.
אנו מעדיפים לעשות זאת בפתרון מדיני – אך חלון הזמנים לכך, קצר. pic.twitter.com/nMrdTmqCoG
A statement released by Israel’s Government Press Office said Hochstein was also briefed on the security situation on Israel’s northern border and the conditions required by the defence establishment to facilitate over 80,000 displaced Israelis to return home.
The US envoy’s visit came as Washington is intensifying efforts to defuse th etensions between Israel and the Iran-backed Hezbollah in the wake of the killing of Hamas’s deputy politburo chief Saleh Al-Arouri on Tuesday in Lebanon.
Al-Arouri and six of his aides were killed in an alleged Israeli strike that targeted a Hamas officein the southern suburb of Beirut.
Even as Israel has not officially taken responsibility for the killing, both Hamas and Hezbollah have blamed the Jewish nation for carrying out the attack.
According to the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), the army on Thursday continued to carry out airstrikes on several Hezbollah sites in southern Lebanon.
The targets included a rocket launch position, an observation post, and other infrastructure belonging to the Lebanese military group.
Jerusalem Post reported on Thursday that in the last three to four weeks, the IDF has started to attack Hezbollah “more aggressively and broadly”.
The number of Hezbollah militants killed in the ongoing skirmishes with the Israeli army since the October 2023 Hamas attack has increased to 151.
According to the militant group, most of its members were killed in Lebanon but a few in Syria as well.
The Lebanon-Israel border witnessed increased tension since October 8, 2023 after the Lebanese armed group Hezbollah fired dozens of rockets toward Israel in support of the Hamas attacks on Israel the previous day, prompting Israel to respond by firing heavy artillery toward southeastern Lebanon.