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Israel approves plans for offen8k8 casino registersive against Hezbollah

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People sit in the back of a truck along a road in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip on Tuesday. BASHAR TALEB/AFP

The Israeli military's approval of operational plans for offensive attacks against Lebanon in defiance of Lebanese and US warnings is seen as a major escalation of the regional conflict, while continuing the bloodshed in the Gaza Strip.

The Israeli threat raised the fears of the Palestinian leadership and United Nations human rights chief Volker Turk, who called for the de-escalation of violence along the Israel-Lebanon border to avert a full-scale war.

The Israel Defense Forces said on Tuesday that the generals held an assessment, during which "operational plans for an offensive in Lebanon were approved", as part of preparations to engage in combat with Hezbollah along the Israel-Lebanon border, The Times of Israel reported.

Before the IDF announcement, Lebanon's Prime Minister Najib Mikati told US envoy Amos J. Hochstein that stopping the persistent Israeli aggression on Lebanon "is required immediately so as to maintain calm and stability in the south of Lebanon", Qatar News Agency reported.

Hochstein, who visited Tel Aviv before Beirut, said during the meeting with Mikati that it was in everyone's interest to resolve the conflict along the blue line between Israel and Hezbollah quickly and diplomatically, noting it is "both achievable and urgent".

Muslim Imran, director of the Asia Middle East Center for Research and Dialogue in Malaysia, told China Daily that the Israeli military and political leadership are "very delusional".

"Now going into war with Lebanon … only shows that Israel's leadership has lost its mind," Imran said.

Imran said the Israeli plan against Lebanon before ending the Gaza conflict is proof that the current Israeli leadership is only interested in day-to-day political and administrative survival.

Meanwhile, Israeli airstrikes and clashes between IDF troops and Palestinian militants rocked Gaza on Wednesday. Witnesses and the civil defense agency in Gaza reported Israeli bombardment in western Rafah, where medics said drone strikes and shelling killed at least seven people.

In a video recording, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu criticized close ally Washington for "withholding weapons and ammunitions to Israel", in remarks rejected by the White House.

Apart from "one particular shipment of munitions" that US officials were looking into closely, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said there are no other pauses. "None," she said.

Imran said the United States is being dragged down the same hole as Israel, with the upcoming presidential elections making it very difficult for the US to engage in conflict.

At the 56th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council on Tuesday, Turk said he is extremely worried about the escalating situation between Lebanon and Israel.

The IDF may have repeatedly violated fundamental principles of the laws of war in a series of prohibited indiscriminate attacks on Gaza, according to a report issued by the UN Human Rights Office on Wednesday.

Xinhua and Agencies contributed to this story.

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