1709140897 Israelis on the border with Lebanon The government is losing

Israelis on the border with Lebanon: “The government is losing the north”

From: February 28, 2024, 2:16 pm

The situation on Israel's border with Lebanon is more tense than it has been in weeks. For the Israelites who had to abandon their homes, the lack of prospects is particularly difficult to bear.

Jan Christoph Kitzler

The situation in northern Israel is getting worse again. In recent days there has been an increase in firing at Israel from Lebanon: just this morning, Hamas announced that it had fired 40 Grad rockets from there. On Monday and Tuesday, dozens of rockets came from Hezbollah, which controls southern Lebanon.

And around 70 thousand Israelis still cannot or do not want to return to their homes. Lihi Vidra Regev, a young mother from Admit, a town about 500 meters from the border, told 103 FM:

As a mother of three young children, I have to honestly admit that we are scared of returning. In a situation where nothing really changes, we will not return to the northern border as a human shield.

The uncertainty is difficult: “We don't know where we should enroll our child who will start school next year. We cannot plan our lives with this uncertainty.”

“The government is losing direction”

Besides the very specific threat, perhaps the biggest problem is the lack of perspective. Moshe Davidovich, head of a regional administration in the north, also sees things this way. “What will satisfy the evacuees in terms of a sense of security so they can return? The government is not providing answers to these questions. The government is losing direction.”

He also said the following to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu before the War Cabinet: “We have been at war for 145 days and there is still no plan for the North.”

Israeli counterattacks repeatedly

Meanwhile, the Israeli army tries to show strength. For months it responded to Lebanese attacks with counterattacks. Many people also left their homes. Yesterday, the army said it had attacked targets inland – in the area around the city of Baalbek, about 100 kilometers north of the border. Hezbollah leaders were also said to have been deliberately killed.

Chief of the General Staff Herzi Halevi recently promised to fight again during a visit to troops: “Our armed forces are here to identify and fight the enemy. We are not waiting.” Hezbollah decided on October 7th to participate in the war and had to pay a high price for it. “First we have to push the enemy back, then we need a very strong border and good intelligence.”

Security expert expects ground offensive

The possibility of further escalation also depends on how fighting in the Gaza Strip continues. If there is a longer ceasefire in that country, the situation on the northern border should also improve.

However, security experts like Shaini Marom say the war in the Gaza Strip must end – including in the North. Looking at the calendar, Marom believes that intense fighting and the ground offensive in Rafah could begin in early May. “Four brigades will have to be destroyed there, which will take about four months – that is, until July or August.”

According to the former naval commander, there will be no intense fighting on the northern front until August. “That's why I say to the evacuees in the north: I assume there will be a ground offensive. But not before August or September.”

But the question of whether there will even be a ceasefire in the Gaza Strip is also open. Until then, the situation remains extremely tense – including for people on the border between Israel and Lebanon.

Jan-Christoph Kitzler, ARD Tel Aviv, tagesschau, February 28, 2024 12:55 pm ET