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Transfer of Israel's Largest Army Division from the Gaza Strip to the Lebanese Border

In a move reflecting growing tensions, Israeli Chief of Staff Herzi Halevi has redeployed the army's largest division, the 36th Division, from the Gaza Strip to the border with Lebanon. This decision comes amid daily exchanges of fire between the Israeli army and Hezbollah along this border, as reported by Israeli media.
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Israeli troops stationed on Merkava tanks close to the Lebanese border in the Upper Galilee area, dated October 24, 2023 (Picture source:Jalaa MAREY / AFP )

Recent discussions within the General Staff saw the commander of the Southern Command, Major General Yaron Finkelman, advocating for the 36th Division to remain in central Gaza to increase military pressure on the Hamas movement. However, the head of the Operations Division, Major General Oded Basyuk, suggested moving the division from Gaza to the north to replace reserve forces, as per the army radio report.

The Chief of Staff ultimately opted to withdraw the 36th Division from Gaza and relocate it to the Lebanese border, although no specific timeline for this transfer was provided. Since late December, the Israeli army has withdrawn the 4th and 55th Reserve Brigades, the 7107th Combat Engineering Battalion, and the 13th Battalion of the Golani Brigade from Gaza.

Since October 8 last year, the Israeli-Lebanese border has witnessed intermittent tension and sporadic exchanges of fire between the Israeli army and Hezbollah, along with Palestinian factions, resulting in casualties and injuries on both sides and among Lebanese civilians.

Three divisions continue to engage Hamas in Gaza. The 162nd Division will remain in northern Gaza, conducting clean-up operations to locate Hamas's infrastructure and eliminate or capture its remaining operatives. The 99th Division is operating in the central part of the Strip, and the 98th Division is engaging Hamas in the Khan Younis area in southern Gaza.

Since the Hamas attack on Israel on October 7, which triggered the war in Gaza, Hezbollah, deeply entrenched in southern Lebanon, has been daily bombarding Israeli army positions at the border in support of the Palestinian movement. Israel has retaliated by bombing targets in southern Lebanon. In nearly four months, 226 people, mostly Hezbollah fighters, have been killed in southern Lebanon. On the Israeli side, 15 people have died, according to the army. Tens of thousands of residents on both sides of the border have been forced to leave their homes.

This announcement comes as tensions escalate in the Gaza Strip following Israel's declaration of its intention to evacuate civilians from Rafah to launch an offensive on the city. This occurs while the border with Egypt, to the south of the Strip, is closed, and President Al Sissi's government is reinforcing the security barrier between the Palestinian enclave and the Sinai desert. The Egyptian army has reportedly positioned tanks to deter Palestinians from breaching the passage. Hamas warned on Sunday that an Israeli offensive against Rafah would destroy hopes for the release of hostages held in the Gaza Strip. Meanwhile, the American President urged Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to "ensure the safety" of the Palestinian population.

Hamas Israel War 2023

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