US envoy urges 'restoring calm' on Lebanon-Israel border

AFP , Tuesday 7 Nov 2023

Visiting US envoy Amos Hochstein on Tuesday urged for calm to return to Lebanon's southern border with Israel, after weeks of skirmishes following the start of the Israeli war on Gaza.

Amos Hochstein
US envoy Amos Hochstein speaks in a press conference in Beirut, Lebanon. AFP

"Restoring calm along the southern border is of utmost importance to the United States and it should be the highest priority for both Lebanon and Israel," Hochstein told a press conference in Beirut.

Since the war on Gaza began on October 7, Lebanon's southern border has seen intensifying tit-for-tat exchanges, mainly between Israel and Hezbollah, an ally of the Palestinian resistance group, stoking fears of a broader conflagration.

Palestinian fighters from both Hamas and Islamic Jihad have also claimed offensive and infiltration attempts from Lebanon, while Israel has been striking the country's south and sending reconnaissance drones across the border, according to the official National News Agency (NNA).

Since the end of a 2006 conflict between Israel and Hezbollah, the Shia Muslim group has not had a visible military presence on Lebanon's southern border, which is patrolled by United Nations peacekeepers.

UN Security Council Resolution 1701 ended the 2006 war and called for the removal of weapons in southern Lebanon from the hands of everyone except the Lebanese army and other state security forces.

Hochstein urged all parties to use Resolution 1701 "and fully implement it", following a meeting with parliament speaker Nabih Berri, a Hezbollah ally.

Since October 7, the cross-border skirmishes have killed at least 83 people on the Lebanese side, according to an AFP tally, mostly Hezbollah fighters but also 11 civilians, including a journalist.

On the Israeli side, six soldiers and two civilians have been killed.

Three girls, aged 10, 12 and 14, and their grandmother were buried Tuesday, an AFP correspondent said, days after the NNA said an Israeli strike hit their vehicle in south Lebanon.

Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah warned Friday that Israel's war on Gaza could turn into a regional conflict if attacks on Gaza continue, placing responsibility on the United States.

Israel has relentlessly bombed the Gaza Strip since October 7, killing more than 10300 Palestinians, including 4,237 children, more than 2,600 women, and 600 elderly, while injuring more than 25,900, acoording to the Palestanian health ministry.

* This story was edited by Ahram Online.

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