As hundreds of tanks and armed soldiers gather near the Gaza border, waiting for a nod from the political regime and the military top brass to begin a 'ground offensive', the United States and the United Kingdom are quietly pushing Israel to hold off the mission, The Times of Israel reported on Saturday.
According to The Times of Israel, the request came fearing that the move would all but scuttle efforts to secure additional hostage releases for the foreseeable future.
The Times of Israel, reported quoting senior diplomatic officials, that both governments recognise that a ground invasion is very likely and not telling Israel not to launch one at all, but rather hold off to try and see if additional diplomatic efforts can succeed.
Meanwhile, Israel Defence Forces (IDF) have confirmed the release of two US citizens who were being held hostage by Hamas, and that the duo is now in Israeli troops' hands.
The two Americans who were released have been identified as Judith Tai Raanan and her 17-year-old daughter, Natali Raanan, both from Chicago.
The United States deployed two carrier strike groups, each consisting of an aircraft carrier, its planes, and several escort warships, which appeared to have deterred Hezbollah from attacking Israel in a major war.
According to the New York Times report, quoting American officials, the US and Israeli Intelligence agencies are working to determine whether Israel's expected ground offensive against Hamas in the Gaza Strip could prompt Hezbollah to launch a large-scale military campaign against Israel from Lebanon.
The US-based daily reported that the officials have assessed that Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah does not want an all-out war with Israel, for fear of the damage it would do to his group and Lebanon. U.S. officials said that assessment could change as more intelligence is gathered and events unfold.
Prime Minister Netanyahu has vetoed proposals from his government of a pre-emptive strike against Hezbollah, according to American officials and others briefed on the discussions.
Earlier, the US Defence Department reiterated its full support to Israel in the ongoing war on Hamas, saying that the US Secretary of Defence was in continuous touch with the Israeli authorities and leaders.
The US Department of Defence (DOD) said in a statement, "Since meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defence Minister Yoav Gallant and members of the Israeli War Cabinet in Tel Aviv on Friday, Secretary Lloyd Austin has remained fully engaged with the country's leaders as the US works ensure Israel has what it needs to defend itself from further attacks."
Pentagon Deputy Press Secretary Sabrina Singh said in a statement, "Since leaving Israel, he has held calls with MOD Gallant ... on a near daily basis and will likely have another call today", adding, "We are working to meet Israel's needs, which include air defence, precision-guided munitions, artillery and medical supplies. "In addition to quickly sending military aid to Israel, the US has bolstered its presence in the region to deter further aggression.
Over the weekend, US Defence Secretary Austin directed the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group to join the USS Gerald R. Ford Carrier Strike Group, which arrived in the Eastern Mediterranean last week.
The Navy units are part of a broader bolstering of US forces in the region. Last week, the Air Force announced the deployment of F-15 and F-16 fighter squadrons and A-10 attack squadrons to the region, according to a US Department of Defence press release.