For “self-defense,” Israel must invade and occupy southern Lebanon for 50 years, says former Israeli defense minister
01/10/2024 // Ethan Huff // Views

A highly influential former defense minister out of Israel is calling for the Jewish state to assume control over southern Lebanon for the next half century, which he says is the amount of time Israel needs the land for "self-defense" purposes.

Avigdor Lieberman, a longtime war hawk, says the reason Israel needs to take control over southern Lebanon is to create a permanent security buffer zone between northern Lebanon and the Jewish state.

Founder and chairman of Yisrael Beiteinu, a right-wing secular nationalist party credited with being most influential among Israel's million-plus Russian-speaking immigrant community, Lieberman argues that Israel Defense Forces (IDF) must "close off" a large portion of southern Lebanon in order to force Hezbollah northward towards the Litani River.

Even if IDF has to occupy Lebanon for the next 50 years in order to create said security buffer zone, Lieberman says this is fair because Hezbollah must "pay in territory," meaning the Islamic group owes Israel the land currently known as southern Lebanon.

Lieberman would explain at a recent weekly meeting of Yisrael Beiteinu that Israelis who live in border areas near southern Lebanon are having to flee their homes due to daily rocket and drone attacks from Hezbollah on northern Israeli communities.

"It can't be that there are entire towns where close to half of the buildings were simply destroyed," Lieberman said at the meeting. "We will not annex anything, and we will not build settlements, but we will release the territory only when there is a government in Beirut that knows how to exercise its sovereignty."

"Everything between the Litani and Israel must be under the control of the IDF. If Lebanon won't pay in territory, we haven't done anything."

(Related: The 2,000-pound MK-84 bombs that Israel is dropping on dense civilian areas of Gaza came from the United States.)

Will Israel wage war on Lebanon?

Israeli media further reported that Lieberman is basically calling for the entirety of Lebanon to bend the knee to Israel and its demands, quoting statements he made about Israel first needing a cooperative government in Beirut.

"[This buffer zone] could be there 'until a government is established in Beirut that is able to exercise its sovereignty over the entire territory,' which could take up to 50 years," Lieberman is quoted as saying.

Were IDF to take its orders from Lieberman, the move would almost certainly result in an eruption of full-scale war between Israel and Hezbollah, which is backed by Iran. If history is any indicator, i.e., the 2006 Lebanese war, then IDF could find it difficult to stave off Hezbollah.

As Lieberman has been making these statements about a possible invasion of southern Lebanon, IDF successfully conducted a strike against a Hamas office in a Beirut suburb, killing Hamas' deputy leader abroad Selah al-Arouri. The death of this second-in-line Hamas leader marks a major escalation in Israel's ongoing war on Hamas.

There is now a very real fear that Hezbollah might heighten its attacks on Israel, as well as fears that Iran might now get involved in fighting back against Israel. The Houthis in Yemen who have been attacking ships in the Red Sea also issued a statement about the death of Selah al-Arouri and warned that the act "won't go unpunished."

"Israel tried this before and it didn't end well for Israel," one commenter wrote about the escalation.

"Oh sure, turning this into a land grab is sure to calm down the tensions," joked another about Lieberman's call for Israel to take more land by force.

The latest news about the Israel-Gaza conflict can be found at

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