Lebanon-Israel border heats up ahead of speech by Hezbollah leader

AFP , Thursday 2 Nov 2023

Lebanon's Hezbollah said it attacked 19 Israeli positions along the border simultaneously Thursday, prompting a "broad" retaliatory assault, on the eve of a speech by the Iran-backed group's leader on the Israeli war on Gaza.

An Israeli tank fires during a military drill in the annexed Golan Heights near the border with Lebanon on November 2, 2023. AFP


Another barrage of rockets wounded two people in the Israeli town of Kiryat Shmona near the Lebanese border, Israel's Magen David Adom emergency medical service said.

The Lebanese section of Hamas said it fired a dozen rockets at the town "in response to the occupation (Israeli) massacres against our people in Gaza".

The Israel-Lebanon border has seen escalating tit-for-tat exchanges, mainly between the Israeli army and Hezbollah, since the begining of the war on Gaza on 7 October, stoking fears of a regional conflagration.

Hezbollah said that at 3:30 pm (1330 GMT), its fighters "simultaneously attacked 19 Zionist military positions" with guided missiles and artillery shells.

The assault came as Hezbollah carried out a drone attack on an Israeli barracks in the disputed Shebaa Farms area, the group said in a statement.

The Israeli army said it targeted the group with a "broad assault", in which "warplanes and helicopters" attacked Hezbollah targets "in response to fire from Lebanese territory earlier today, together with attacks with artillery and tank fire".

'Doesn't need a war' 

Israel has carried out relentless strikes on Gaza since Al-Aqsa flood on 7 October.

Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah is set to speak Friday for the first time since the Israeli war on Gaza broke out.

French Defence Minister Sebastien Lecornu said Lebanon "doesn't need a war" with Israel, during a visit on Thursday to his country's contingent in the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL).

Such a war "could have major escalatory effects on the whole region," he said.

Earlier Thursday, Hezbollah said it had downed an Israeli drone with a surface-to-air missile.

Lebanon's army meanwhile retrieved the bodies of two shepherds killed by Israeli fire, official media said, raising to 66 the number killed in Lebanon since the Israel-Hamas war began, according to an AFP tally.

The two shepherds, aged 20 and 22, had been reported missing on Wednesday as they herded their flock through Wazzani, their home village near the border, Lebanon's National News Agency (NNA) reported.

"They were found dead after the (Israeli) occupation forces opened fire in their direction," the NNA said.

'Great concern' 

Most of those killed on the Lebanese side have been Hezbollah fighters but the number also includes seven civilians, one of them a journalist.

On the Israeli side, nine people have died -- eight soldiers and one civilian, the Israeli army says.

UNIFIL said that on Wednesday "two projectiles landed and exploded 10 meters" (32 feet) from a peacekeeping position in the southern village of Beit Lif, "causing significant damage to a wall and minor damage to some UNIFIL vehicles".

"UNIFIL reiterates its great concern that our positions are being hit in the exchange of fire," a statement said.

Israel says its aim in Gaza is to destroy Hamas with officials saying militants killed 1,400 people and kidnapped 242 others.

It has been bombarding Gaza since then in an assault that the Palestinian health ministry in Gaza says has killed more than 9,100 people, 75 percent of them are children, women, and the elderly. 

* This story has been edited by Ahram Online

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