IDF ready for war to expand north, commander says
A view of the snow-covered peaks of the Israeli and Syrian Hermon mountain range, along the Golan Heights, on Feb. 8, 2024.
(Photo: Michael Giladi/Flash90)

When the order is given, dozens of Israeli aircraft over Lebanon will turn into hundreds, per the Israeli Air Force commander.

By Yaakov Lappin
February 9, 2024

(JNS) — The Israel Defense Forces is committed to changing “the security reality” in northern Israel, a senior IDF commander pledged to northern residents on Friday, amid continued Hezbollah attacks and Israeli Air Force strikes on Hezbollah in Southern Lebanon.

Maj. Gen. Ori Gordin, Northern Command chief of the IDF, shared intelligence and operational updates with the heads of evacuated councils in northern Israel in a meeting at IDF Northern Command headquarters in Safed.

Gordin updated the civilian leaders on the ways that the IDF is preparing for more fighting with Hezbollah, the IDF stated.

“Our goal is to change the security situation in the north in a manner that will allow us to safely return the residents home to a state of security,” he stated. “We are determined to change the security reality that is already shifting these days and continue to prepare for an expansion of the war and to go on the offensive. This is our mission.”

The major general added that Israel will continue its “defensive battle,” striking Hezbollah and disarming the terror organization’s capabilities.

“Our mission is to protect the residents and communities of the north. The way we operate, and intend to continue, is partnership—full partnership with you and the residents,” he told the civilian leaders.

“The residents of the north are what give us strength to continue. They are the tailwind that allows us to achieve the accomplishments we have reached so far in the north,” he said.

Dozens will grow to hundreds

The IDF announced on Friday that it successfully intercepted a suspicious aerial target above Haifa’s maritime space. No alarm was necessary per protocol, the IDF stated.

The Israeli army released information on Thursday about a key operational conference that addressed the Lebanese threat, among other issues. High-ranking Israeli military officials warned about the potential for a war expansion.

Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi, the IDF chief of staff, ran the conference, which was held at Palmachim Airbase south of Tel Aviv.

“Hezbollah will continue to pay with the loss of its systems. Dozens of aircraft are now operating in the skies of southern Lebanon, and the moment an order is given, the dozens will turn into hundreds carrying out the missions within minutes from launch,” said Maj. Gen. Tomer Bar, commander of the IAF, during the event.

Maj. Gen. Yaron Finkelman, head of IDF Southern Command which oversees the fighting in Gaza, told attendees that Israel’s air force “is not a pillar of fire before the camp,” invoking the biblical reference to a divine guide that led the Israelites to the promised land of Israel.

“It is inside the camp and with the camp,” he said. “I am telling you this on behalf of the commanders in the field.”

Officials shared details of the coming year’s military force building and operations at the gathering, according to the IDF. They also presented a detailed review of the IAF’s activities on multiple fronts since the onset of the war.

More weapons discovered during Gaza raids

Combat continued throughout Friday in the Gaza Strip, as the IDF carried out a series of operations targeting Hamas terrorists.

In the western part of the city of Khan Yunis, Israeli troops eliminated a terrorist cell that planted explosive devices near their positions.

Naval, air and ground troops were active across Gaza, eliminating multiple terrorist cells and destroying terror infrastructure, per the IDF.

Ground troops also directed airstrikes against several buildings in the area that were rigged with explosives and located near the troops.

The IDF discovered weapons during the raids, including AK-47s,
ammunition, grenades and other military equipment, it stated.

In Beit Lahia, in the northern part of Gaza, the IAF thwarted an imminent attack by an armed terrorist cell operating near a Hamas military post and two terrorists operating nearby, per the IDF.

The 646th Reserve Brigade has also been conducting targeted raids in the area of Khan Yunis, according to the military. The brigade discovered rocket launchers that Hamas placed near a kindergarten
and a mosque. It also found an underground tunnel route beneath a civilian water station.

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