Fighting between Israel and Hezbollah has brought destruction to border regions.

Israel Warns Iran-Backed Hezbollah Over Cross-Border Escalation

Monday, 06/17/2024

Intensified cross-border fire from Iran-backed Hezbollah militias from Lebanon into Israel could trigger serious escalation, the Israeli military said on Sunday, repeating recent warnings by other officials.

"Hezbollah’s increasing aggression is bringing us to the brink of what could be a wider escalation, one that could have devastating consequences for Lebanon and the entire region," Israeli military spokesperson Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari said in a video statement in English.

Hezbollah, which has been in a cross-border confrontation with Israel since the October 7 Hamas attack, intensified its bombardment of northern Israel last week, triggering strong responses by the Israeli air force. Concerns about a wider war grew, as many in Israel spoke about a decisive confrontation with the Lebanese Shiite group armed and supported by Iran.

The Israeli strike in south Lebanon village of Jouaiyya late on Tuesday killed three Hezbollah fighters alongside the senior field commander identified by Hezbollah as Taleb Abdallah, also known as Abu Taleb.

He was the most senior Hezbollah commander killed during eight months of hostilities; a source told Reuters. Old photos emerged on social media showing Abdallah with Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah.

Hagari stated that Hezbollah “has been escalating its attacks against Israel. Since deciding to join the war that Hamas started on October 7th, Hezbollah has fired over 5,000 rockets; anti-tank missiles, and explosive UAVs from Lebanon at Israeli families, homes, and communities.”

After the relatively heavy exchanges over the past week, Sunday saw a marked drop in Hezbollah fire, while the Israeli military said that it had carried out several air strikes against the group in southern Lebanon. However, Hagari warned that “Israel will take the necessary measures to protect its civilians, until security along our border with Lebanon is restored.”

The US and France are working on a negotiated settlement to the hostilities along Lebanon's southern border. Hezbollah says it will not halt fire unless Israel stops its military offensive on Gaza.

A senior Biden adviser will travel to Israel on Monday for meetings to avoid further escalation between Israel and Lebanon, the White House said.

Amos Hochstein will advance efforts to avoid further escalation along the "Blue Line" between Israel and Lebanon, said the official, who did not wish to be identified.

Hagari said that Hezbollah is endangering the future and security of Lebanon by playing the role of a “shield for Hamas terrorists who murdered the elderly, raped women, burned children, and kidnapped Jews, Muslims, and Christians, during their massacre on October 7th.”

Hagari warned that “Iran’s terror proxies continue to drag the region to destruction. Israel will continue fighting against Iran’s axis of evil on all fronts — in Gaza, in Lebanon — as we work towards a more secure future for the Middle East.”

“October 7th cannot happen again, on any one of Israel’s borders. Israel has a duty to defend the people of Israel. We will fulfill that duty, at all costs,” he added.

Around 400 Hezbollah and allied fighters have been killed in eight months of skirmishes with Israel, with dozens of Israeli soldiers and civilians dead and wounded in Hezbollah shelling of northern Israel.

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