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Shooting on the Israeli-Lebanese border, fears of a full-scale war

Photo: Rabih Daher Agence France-Presse A column of smoke forms during the Israeli bombardment of the village of Khiam in southern Lebanon on June 19, 2024.

Agence France-Presse in Beirut

Published at 1:58 p.m. Updated at 7:02 p.m.

  • Middle East

The Israeli army and Hezbollah exchanged fresh cross-border fire on Thursday, after an escalation in bellicose rhetoric between the two protagonists, raising fears of a full-scale war.

On Israel's southern front, in the Gaza Strip, the war triggered on October 7 by an attack by the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas against Israeli territory continues with Israeli bombings on several sectors of the besieged Palestinian territory.

This devastating conflict has sparked an outbreak of violence on Israel's northern border, shared with Lebanon, where exchanges of fire between the army and Hezbollah, an ally of Hamas , have intensified in recent weeks.

On Thursday, the Lebanese Islamist movement announced that it had fired “dozens of Katyusha rockets” at a military position in northern Israel in retaliation for the death of one of its fighters in a targeted Israeli strike on Deir Kifa, in southern Lebanon.

The Israeli army confirmed that it had “eliminated” a Hezbollah fighter, presenting him as a local commander of the movement armed and financed by Iran, Israel's sworn enemy.

In an incendiary speech delivered Wednesday evening, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah warned that “no place” in Israel would be spared from his movement's missiles and drones in the event of an Israeli attack on Lebanon.

On Tuesday, the Israeli army announced that “operational plans for an offensive in Lebanon” had been “validated,” and Foreign Minister Israel Katz said that “in a total war, Hezbollah will be destroyed.”

“New weapons”

< p>Mr. Nasrallah also threatened the Mediterranean island of Cyprus, saying he “has information” that Israel could use, if attacked, “airports and bases” in this closest European Union country. coasts of the Middle East.

These accusations are “baseless,” the Cypriot government said. Cyprus “maintains excellent relations with all countries in the region” and it “is not and will not be involved in any conflict.”

Hezbollah's threats , a movement that exercises a preponderant influence in Lebanon, have raised concerns.

“We do not know whether this story will end in a war or an agreement. I would prefer a deal,” Shimon Kamari, who comes from the northern Israeli town of Kiryat Shmona, told Agence France-Presse.

“Lebanon does not want a war, no one wants a war. We are tired, there is the [serious] economic situation, and on top of that a war… We cannot continue like this,” said Sofinar, a resident of Beirut.

In the event of war, Mr. Nasrallah warned, Israel would have to “wait for us by land, by sea and by air,” adding that his movement had received “new weapons” and had more than 100,000 men ready in combat.

But experts are divided on the prospect of a regional conflict.

“It is “crucial that all parties stop shooting”, launched the UN Special Coordinator for Lebanon, Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert.

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Tensions between Israel and Washington

On October 7, Hamas commandos carried out an attack in southern Israel that resulted in the deaths of 1,194 people, most of them civilians, according to a count from Agence France-Presse established from official Israeli data. That day, 251 people were kidnapped, and 116 are still held hostage in Gaza, 41 of whom died, according to the army.

Israel has vowed to destroy Hamas, which seized power in Gaza in 2007 and is considered terrorist by the United States, the European Union and Israel. His army launched a major offensive that has devastated Gaza and left 37,431 dead so far, mostly civilians, including 35 in the last 24 hours, according to data from the Health Ministry of the Gaza government, led by Hamas.

In Rafah (south), fighting continues between soldiers and Palestinian fighters, as do Israeli bombings.

Strikes also targeted central Gaza, killing two people, according to a doctor, as well as areas in the north of the small Palestinian territory, which is threatened with famine, according to the UN.

“We will not leave Gaza until the hostages have all returned and before we eliminate the military capabilities of Hamas,” reaffirmed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, while a new demonstration bringing together Israelis hostile to his conduct of the war took place in Jerusalem.

Asserting in a separate statement that Israel is waging “a war for its existence,” Netanyahu stressed that his country needs weapons from the United States, its historic ally, after lamenting delays in American military aid on Tuesday .

White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby called Netanyahu's remarks on delays. “No other country,” he said, “is doing more to help Israel defend itself against the threat of Hamas […].”

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116