The PJ Tatler

Psaki After Hezbollah Attack: Israel Can Defend Itself, But 'Preference' Is No More 'Back-and-Forth'

Two Israeli soldiers were killed today by a series of Hezbollah missiles fired from the Lebanon side of the border at a military convoy.

The United Nations said it’s investigating the death of a Spanish member of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) after Israel responded to the Hezbollah attack with airstrikes and artillery, Reuters reported.

“I would like to send condolences to the families of the fallen and my best wishes for a full recovery to our wounded soldiers. Whoever is behind today’s attack will pay the full price. For some time, Iran – via Hezbollah – has been trying to establish an additional terrorist front against us from the Golan Heights,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said at the start of an evening meeting with security officials.

“We are taking strong and responsible action against this attempt. The Lebanese government and the Assad regime share responsibility for the consequences of the attacks emanating from their territories against the State of Israel,” Netanyahu continued. “In all of these events, our mission is to defend the State of Israel.”

“Our only consideration is the security of the State of Israel and its citizens. Thus we have acted and thus we will continue to act.”

State Department press secretary Jen Psaki urged both sides to remain calm.

“We support Israel’s legitimate right to self-defense and continue to urge all parties to respect the blue line between Israel and Lebanon as prescribed by UNSCR 17-01,” she said. “We also, of course, condemn the act of violence, and will be watching the situation closely.”

Pressed for clarification on “the act,” Psaki clarified that they condemn Hezbollah’s attack.

“We certainly encourage all parties to respect the blue line between Israel and Lebanon. We urge all parties to refrain from any action that could escalate the situation. You’re familiar with our views on Hezbollah. As I’ve mentioned, we strongly condemn Hezbollah’s attack today near the border. But beyond that, I’m not going to speculate further,” she told reporters.

“…But certainly, our preference is to reduce the tensions and the violence and the back-and-forth from here.”

Psaki added, “Look, this is a situation where there has been an attack from Hezbollah. Obviously, we condemn that. Is our preference that there are no more attacks and that the UNSCR is abided by? Yes. But we also believe Israel has the right to defend itself.”

“Maybe the way to state your position would be that you would prefer that Israel not exercise its right to self-defense,” a reporter said.

“I wouldn’t state it in that way, though I appreciate your offer to give us talking points,” Psaki retorted.