Israel Strikes ‘Number of Targets’ in Lebanon Shortly After Biden Sets De-Escalation Expectation

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https://www.newsweek.com/-By Jenni Fink

Israel conducted air strikes against several targets in Lebanon after four rockets were fired at Israel, shortly after President Joe Biden set de-escalation expectations on a call with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Above, Netanyahu shows a slideshow during a briefing to ambassadors to Israel at the Hakirya military base in Tel Aviv on Wednesday. Sebastian scheiner/Pool/AFP/Getty Images

resident Joe Biden‘s ramping up calls for Israel to pull back its use of force in the conflict with Hamas, but it seems to have done little to change Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu‘s plans.

On Wednesday, Biden told Netanyahu that he expected Israel to engage in “significant de-escalation” that day in an effort to move toward a cease-fire. About 10 minutes after the White House announced the contents of the call, Israel conducted strikes on a “number of targets” in Lebanon.

The strikes were in response to four rockets that were fired at northern Israel from Lebanon, according to the Israel Defense Forces. One was intercepted by the Iron Dome, a defense system that has been credited with saving Israeli lives.

“We are prepared for any scenario on any front,” the IDF posted on Twitter.

Stefano Del Col, head of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFL), urged both parties to “exercise maximum restraint at this critical time.” Shortly after the IDF retaliated, the UNIFL announced the firing had stopped and peacekeepers were assessing the situation with the Lebanese Army.

Newsweek reached out to the White House for comment but did not receive a response in time for publication.

Wednesday’s call between Biden and Netanyahu was the fourth conversation between the two since the violence erupted and signified a sterner tone from the American side.

In earlier calls, Biden condemned the “indiscriminate attacks” against Israeli towns and cities and supported Israel’s right to defend itself, while raising concerns about the escalating violence. After publicly supporting a ceasefire, he encouraged Israel on Monday to make “every effort” to ensure civilians are no longer killed in the attacks.

Netanyahu’s denied that Israel intentionally targets civilians in its attacks and has criticized Hamas for using civilians in their attacks, making it difficult to avoid additional deaths.

Despite pressure from the international community, Netanyahu has refused to back down and on Wednesday said there was no timeline for when the violence could end. While he hoped it would be over soon, Netanyahu said Israel was committed to its goals of degrading Hamas’ capabilities to prevent future attacks.

“You can either conquer them—and that’s always an open possibility—or you can deter them,” Netanyahu said of Hamas. “We are engaged right now in forceful deterrence, but I have to say, we are not ruling out anything.”

Wednesday marked at least the third time that rockets were launched toward Israel from its northern neighbors. The three that weren’t intercepted by the Iron Dome landed in an open area and the sea, according to the Associated Press.

The rockets were launched from Qlaileh, a village in southern Lebanon near the Israeli border, an official told the Associated Press. Four landed inside Lebanese territory.

 

 

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