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Violence Escalates Between Israel and Lebanon’s Hezbollah Amid Gaza Assault

Violence has escalated at Lebanon’s border with Israel as Hezbollah launched explosive drones and missiles at Israeli positions, and Israeli air strikes rocked several towns and villages in south Lebanon. An Israeli air strike on the town of Aitaroun destroyed five homes and damaged many more, Ali Hijazi, a local official, said on Sunday.

“Divine intervention prevented anyone being martyred. Three women and two men were wounded,” he told Reuters news agency.

Senior Hezbollah politician, Hassan Fadlallah, in a statement to Reuters, said Israeli air strikes were a “new escalation” to which the group was responding with new types of attacks, be it “in the nature of the weapons [used] or the targeted sites”.

The Israeli army earlier said “suspicious aerial targets” had crossed from Lebanon, and two were intercepted. Two Israeli soldiers were moderately wounded and a number of others lightly injured from shrapnel and smoke inhalation, it said.

Israeli fighter jets carried out “an extensive series of strikes on Hezbollah terror targets in Lebanese territory”, it said. Sirens sounded in Israel at several locations at the border. In Beirut, residents saw what appeared to be two warplanes streaking across a clear blue sky, leaving vapour trails behind them.

Israel and the Iran-backed Hezbollah have been trading fire since the war in Gaza erupted two months ago in their worst hostilities since a 2006 conflict. The violence has largely been contained to the border area. Hezbollah says its attacks aim to support the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, where nearly 18,000 people – most of them women and children – have been killed by Israel in two months.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has warned that Beirut would be turned “into Gaza” if Hezbollah started an all-out war. UNIFIL, the UN peacekeeping force in south Lebanon, said in a statement “the potential for a miscalculation that could trigger a wider conflict is increasing”.

In one of several attacks announced by Hezbollah on Sunday, the group said it had launched the explosive drones at an Israeli command position near Ya’ara. In another, Hezbollah said it had fired Burkan (Volcano) missiles, which carry hundreds of kilogrammes of explosives.

Israeli air strikes were also reported on the outskirts of the Lebanese village of Yaroun, not far from the location of another of the Israeli positions Hezbollah said it had targeted on Sunday. Those air strikes broke windows of houses, shops and a school in the nearby village of Rmeich, Toni Elias, a priest in Rmeich, told Reuters by phone.

Violence at the border has killed more than 120 people in Lebanon, including 85 Hezbollah fighters and 16 civilians. In Israel, the hostilities have killed seven soldiers and four civilians.

Source: Aljazeera