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May 29, 2024

Israel Issues Detailed Threat to Hezbollah as Gaza War Hits 4 Months

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Feb 4, 2024

Israel has issued its most detailed threat yet against the militant Hezbollah group in Lebanon, while the war on Gaza marked its fourth month as cross-border violence showed no signs of abating.

Israel Vows to Strike Thousands More Hezbollah Sites

In a rare confirmation of Israeli strikes in Syria, the military said it struck over 50 Hezbollah targets in Syria since fighting broke out in Gaza last October. The targets included efforts by Iran to provide Hezbollah advanced missiles and drones that could overwhelm Israeli missile defenses.

“We struck more than 50 Hezbollah targets in Syria since the operation began,” said Lt. Col. Richard Hecht, a military spokesman. “We struck UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles), we struck warehouses and infrastructure and we continue to strike these targets.”

Israel considers Hezbollah its most serious immediate threat, estimating the Iranian-backed group has some 150,000 rockets and missiles aimed at Israel. In recent years, Israel also has expressed concerns that Hezbollah is trying to import or develop guided missiles.

The bitter enemies fought a month-long war in 2006 that ended in a stalemate. Israel says it has foiled Iranian attempts to transfer guided missiles to Hezbollah. Eastern Mediterranean gas fields have also contributed to tensions between the enemies.

Hecht said that Israeli troops are “training very hard to prepare for any Hezbollah attack” and that Israel has struck over 3,400 Hezbollah military sites during the Gaza fighting.

The military also released satellite images and coordinates of what it said are over 3,000 Hezbollah military sites and Iranian targets in Syria and Lebanon. The unprecedented release, which included residential addresses of senior Hezbollah officials, was meant to cast doubt over the group’s civilian infrastructure and deter aggression toward Israel.

Hezbollah Targets Struck Command Posts Observation Posts Headquarters Infrastructure Total
Lebanon 800 250 30 100 1,180
Syria 1,200 600 20 400 2,220

Total|2,000|850|50|500|3,400|

The military provided satellite photos of what it said were tunnels dug by Hezbollah under southern Lebanon’s Beaufort Castle, which could be used for attackers to fire rockets and mortars without setting up launching teams vulnerable to Israeli surveillance or attack.

“Hezbollah built a facility underground made up of tunnels that conceal combatants, rockets, mortars and infrastructure so they can attack northern Israeli communities and IDF bases,” the military said.

No Ceasefire for Hezbollah If Gaza Fighting Halts

Israel has repeatedly warned Hezbollah against intervening in the fighting in Gaza. As the fighting there possibly nears an end, Israel warns it will not tolerate even minor attacks from Hezbollah.

Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said that any truce would not apply to the volatile frontier with Lebanon.

“If a cease-fire begins in Gaza, this quiet will not apply to any firing by Hezbollah. Our plans against the organization’s weapons program were not postponed or canceled,” Gallant said.

“I advise Hezbollah not to test us,” he added. “Hezbollah made an effort to disrupt routine life, but received an unambiguous response that disrupted its force buildup process.”

As tensions rise on Israel’s northern border, the military said it staged drills of its urban warfare capabilities. Last week, footage released by the military showed the Golan Heights town of Majdal Shams on fire following simulated Hezbollah shelling. Air raid sirens rang out in northern Israel, sending residents to seek shelter.

“We will soon go into action along the border,” Gallant said after visiting troops training in northern Israel last week. “The IDF is deployed, training and is ready for any scenario.”

No End in Sight for Israel-Gaza Fighting

Israel and Hamas have fought four wars and countless smaller battles over the last 15 years. In the latest fighting, at least 165 Palestinians have been killed in Israeli strikes, including 53 children and 31 women. Twelve people in Israel have been killed in Hamas attacks, including five children.

Hamas efforts to produce long-range rockets have so far not succeeded. Gaza militants have fired some 5,000 rockets at Israel, with most either exploding in open areas or intercepted by Israel’s Iron Dome defense system. However, short-range rockets cannot be intercepted and have paralyzed communities in southern Israel and forced tens of thousands to seek shelter during attacks.

While Hamas officials say they are ready to end the conflict, any truce appears elusive. Following two days of intensive talks in June, diplomats involved in mediating a cease-fire said gaps remained between the sides. Hamas has sought the lifting of an Israeli-Egyptian blockade imposed on Gaza when it seized power from rival Palestinian forces in 2007.

Both Israel and Lebanon Brace But Fear Full-Scale War

Although neither Israel nor Hezbollah appear to desire full-fledged conflict, both sides have warned that war could break out anytime. Any major conflagration would likely draw in superpower allies on both sides.

Memories are still fresh in Lebanon of the 2006 war between Israel and Hezbollah, which took the lives of 1,200 Lebanese citizens and 165 Israelis. Many residents in southern Lebanon believe that another war is all but inevitable.

“It’s not a matter of if there’s a conflict, it’s a matter of when it will happen,” said Hassan Mousa, a shopkeeper in the port city of Tyre. “Everyone here feels it coming, and there’s nothing we can really do to stop it.”

According to Arab intelligence sources, Hezbollah has already evacuated several military sites and redeployed elsewhere after learning about a potential large-scale Israeli operation in southern Lebanon.

In northern Israeli towns, municipalities have begun preparing bomb shelters and drilling evacuation routes. However, echoing the sentiments of many residents living near the Lebanese border, Eitan Livni, mayor of Kiryat Shmona, said locals are accustomed to threats from Hezbollah.

“Unfortunately we are almost used to it by now, it’s been this way for many years,” Livni said. “We face the threats every day, but try to continue living normal lives – we don’t have another choice.”

With both sides making intense preparations for potential war, many hope cooler heads will prevail. But as long as Iran continues supplying Hezbollah with weapons and Israel refuses to tolerate the buildup, lasting quiet seems unlikely along one of the Middle East’s most volatile borders.

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AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

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By AiBot

AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

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