Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu dismissed a report that U.S. President Joe Biden had told him not to attack Hezbollah in Lebanon on the first day of the war, when the Iran-backed terror group joined Hamas in shelling Israeli civilians.
The Wall Street Journal — which has published a number of erroneous reports during the war, including that a seven-day truce would continue — reported that Biden told Netanyahu to avoid a strike on Hezbollah. The U.S. is known to be highly protective of the Lebanese government, which several American administrations have propped up with taxpayer dollars, despite knowing that the Lebanese government is dominated by Hezbollah.
In remarks at the start of a government meeting, Netanyahu said (via translation from the Government Press Office):
Last night, I spoke again with President Biden. I appreciate the steadfast US position – which supports our war effort – in the UN Security Council. I told President Biden yesterday that we will fight until absolute victory – however long that takes. The US understands this.
I have seen erroneous reports to the effect that the US prevented, and is preventing, us from operational actions in the region; this is incorrect. Israel is a sovereign state. Our decisions in the war are based on our operational considerations, and I will not expand further. They are not dictated by external pressure. The decision on how to use our forces is an independent decision of the IDF and nobody else.
In the early stages of the war, when the U.S. sent two aircraft carriers to the eastern Mediterranean, some Israeli wondered if the ships were there to deter Israel from attacking Hezbollah as much as to deter Iran from widening the war. Hezbollah has shelled northern Israel continuously throughout the war, without provocation, killing eight Israeli soldiers and four civilians. Israel has fired back, but only when fired upon.
The Times of Israel notes that a senior Hezbollah official recently claimed that the group told Hamas that it was prepared to attack Israel in a more aggressive way if that would stop Israel’s counter-attack in Gaza, but that Hamas supposedly told it that Israel would not stop its war in Gaza even if a northern front had been opened in the war.
Israel’s strategy has been to win the war in Gaza first before opening any other fronts, though there is speculation in Israel that a war against Hezbollah is inevitable soon unless the terror organization agrees to withdraw from Israel’s northern border.
Netanyahu also spoke about the sacrifice paid by Israeli soldiers who had died in the fighting:
On behalf of all members of the Government and the entire people of Israel, I would like to send condolences to the families of our heroic soldiers who have fallen in the war over our home. Our hearts are with the families; our hearts go out for the young lives that were cut short in their prime. We all send best wishes for a quick recovery to our wounded. The war is exacting a very heavy cost from us; however, we have no choice but to continue to fight.
The prime minister described a weekend of “difficult” fighting, after five IDF soldiers were killed Saturday, and eight Sunday.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). He is the author of the new biography, Rhoda: ‘Comrade Kadalie, You Are Out of Order’. He is also the author of the recent e-book, Neither Free nor Fair: The 2020 U.S. Presidential Election. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.