Israel’s Foreign Minister threatened on Tuesday to destroy Hezbollah in the event of a “total war,” after the Iran-backed Lebanese militant group stepped up cross-border attacks on northern Israel.

“We are very close to the moment when we will decide to change the rules of the game against Hezbollah and Lebanon. In a total war, Hezbollah will be destroyed and Lebanon will be hit hard,” Israel Katz said, according to a statement from his office.

Israel and Hezbollah, a Hamas ally, have been trading near-daily cross-border fire since the Palestinian militant group’s October 7 attack on Israel triggered war in the Gaza Strip.

US envoy Amos Hochstein held talks with Israeli leaders on Monday before travelling to Lebanon to press for de-escalation on the border, as an Israeli official said Hezbollah had fired thousands of projectiles at the start of the Gaza war.

Hezbollah escalated attacks last week after a commander, Taleb Abdallah, was killed in an Israeli strike in the village of Jouaiyya. The Israeli army described him as “one of Hezbollah’s most senior commanders in southern Lebanon.”

The Iran-backed Lebanese movement said that it launched rocket and missile barrages as well as “attack drones” against Israeli military positions in response.

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