Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu threatened devastation in Beirut and southern Lebanon if Hezbollah opens a second front in Israel’s war with Hamas.
“If Hezbollah decides to open an all-out war, then with its own hands it will turn Beirut and southern Lebanon, which are not far from here, into Gaza and Khan Yunis,” Netanyahu said.
President Joe Biden, who has made a priority of containing the Israel-Hamas conflict, spoke to both Netanyahu and King Abdullah II of Jordan regarding “the latest developments in Gaza,” the White House said on Thursday.
Netanyahu delivered the warning during a visit to the headquarters of the Israel Defense Forces’ northern command, which oversees units that have traded fire with Hezbollah along the border with Lebanon in the weeks since Hamas militants attacked Israel on Oct. 7. He praised military reservists’ “great spirit in their readiness for battle.”
His threat referred to the widespread destruction that Israel’s military has unleashed in the northern Gaza Strip in retaliation for the attack by Hamas, which is labeled a terrorist group by the U.S. and the European Union. Israel has now turned its focus to the south of Gaza, with troops reportedly entering Khan Yunis.
Hezbollah has expressed solidarity with Hamas, and as the fighting in the Gaza Strip has escalated, cross-border fire between Israel and Hezbollah has become a daily occurrence. At the same time, Hezbollah has held off from launching a full-blown military campaign, helping to ease fears that the Hamas conflict would erupt into a wider regional war.
In his conversation with Netanyahu, Biden expressed concerns for the hostages in Gaza, about attacks on Palestinians in the West Bank and how crucial it was for a steady supply of humanitarian assistance into Gaza, the White House said in an account of the call, which didn’t mention Netanyahu’s warning to Hezbollah.
Biden and the king “affirmed their commitment” to work with other nations in the region to help bring about a peace agreement that would include the eventual establishment of a Palestinian state, according to the White House.
(With assistance from Justin Sink and Akayla Gardner.)
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