Smotrich Calls for Israel To Take Over Southern Lebanon If Hezbollah Doesn’t Withdraw from Border

The Israeli minister wants Netanyahu to issue an ultimatum to Hezbollah

On Sunday, Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich called for the Israeli military to invade and take over southern Lebanon if Hezbollah does not withdraw from the border.

Smotrich called for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to issue an ultimatum to Hezbollah. “A public ultimatum must be issued to Hezbollah that they completely stop firing and withdraw all forces to beyond the Litani River,” he said at a faction meeting of his Religious Zionism party.

“If the ultimatum is not fully met, the IDF will launch an assault deep in Lebanese territory to defend the northern communities, including ground entry and Israeli military takeover of the southern Lebanese area,” Smotrich added.

He said the only way to return Israelis to northern areas that have been evacuated is “through a military decision with a devastating assault on Hezbollah, its infrastructure, and the destruction of its power.”

Israel and Hezbollah have exchanged near-daily strikes across the border since October 7. Over 300 people have been killed on the Lebanon side of the border, and dozens have been killed in southern Israel. Tensions show no sign of easing, and Israeli officials have frequently threatened a full-scale invasion, although such an operation would stretch Israel’s military thin amid its onslaught in Gaza.

Concerning Gaza, Smotrich said permanent Israeli military control was needed and that military outposts should be built “in the north, center and south of the Gaza Strip, to prevent a situation in which Hamas rebuilds its military infrastructure and [reasserts] civilian control.” He has repeatedly called for the expulsion of Palestinians from Gaza and the re-establishment of Jewish settlements.

Smotrich is a settler himself and holds a minister position in the Defense Ministry that gives him the power to expand settlements in the West Bank. He has also signaled support for Israeli expansion beyond the occupied Palestinian territories.

Last year, Smotrich spoke at a conference that displayed a map of “Greater Israel,” which showed Jordan as part of Israeli territory. In the speech, Smotrich said the Palestinian people were “an invention.”

Author: Dave DeCamp

Dave DeCamp is the news editor of, follow him on Twitter @decampdave.