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Τετάρτη, 17 Ιουλίου, 2024

Middle East tensions: Hezbollah claims it has fired 200 rockets into Israel in one of largest barrages yet |

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Militant group Hezbollah has said it has fired 200 rockets into Israel in one of its largest barrages yet.

The Iran-backed organisation claimed it launched the attack on 10 Israeli military sites using a “squadron of drones”.

Tensions have been boiling around the border between Israel and Lebanon in recent weeks.

Image:
Smoke rises above northern Israel after this morning’s attack. Pic: Reuters

Image:
Pic: Reuters

The Israeli military said “numerous projectiles and suspicious aerial targets” had entered its territory, many of which it said were intercepted.

Israel’s ambulance service said there were no casualties reported.

Analysis: Is an Israeli invasion of Lebanon inevitable?

The Israel Defence Forces (IDF) was anticipating a heavy response from Hezbollah after they killed a senior commander in southern Lebanon yesterday.

However, this is the second incident of its kind in three weeks and each time it happens, tensions ratchet up and the possibility of all-out war gets closer.

If the damage to Israel is minimal – few or no casualties, limited impact on infrastructure – then the situation should remain contained for now.

But more than 200 rockets and drones have the potential for mistake and there are voices in Israel increasingly urging the government to launch an invasion of Lebanon sooner rather than later.

All sources I speak to in the region continue to insist that Hezbollah, Iran and Syria do not want a war with Israel and Hezbollah’s attacks will stop when a ceasefire is reached in Gaza.

Only on Tuesday, Hezbollah’s deputy leader publicly reiterated this position. Hezbollah is also facing some domestic opposition in Lebanon from groups who fear they are dragging the country to the point of no return.

A ceasefire has looked unlikely in recent weeks, talks had pretty much stopped, but on Wednesday night Hamas submitted a new proposal that reportedly walks back on its demands for an immediate and permanent ceasefire before any hostages are released

This had been the main sticking point to a deal. Benjamin Netanyahu is set to discuss this with US President Joe Biden on a phone call later today, as well as meet with his security cabinet this evening.
Having spent the past two days meeting government officials in the region, there is a desperate hope that a ceasefire will bring some calm on all fronts and then, intense discussions can start on resolving the Israel-Lebanon border situation.

But Israel still has 80,000 of its citizens displaced and insists it will not return to the pre-7 October situation with Hezbollah on its border – so many people think some form of Israeli invasion is inevitable.

The IDF is expected to transition to a new, less intense phase of fighting in Gaza in the coming weeks.

Unnamed senior IDF figures have briefed news organisations that they would like a hostage deal in Gaza rather than immediate redeployment to the Lebanon border.

The barrage of rockets is believed to be in retaliation for a strike that killed one of Hezbollah’s senior commanders.

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From June: Furious fighting risking all-out war

Read more: Furious fighting between Israel and Lebanon is ratcheting up risk of all-out war

Israel’s military acknowledged on Wednesday it had killed Mohammad Naameh Nasser, who headed one of Hezbollah’s three regional divisions in southern Lebanon, a day earlier.

Mr Nasser, killed by an airstrike near the coastal city of Tyre in southern Lebanon, was one of the most senior Hezbollah commanders to die in the conflict.

Image:
Hezbollah commander Mohammad Naameh Nasser, who was killed by an Israeli airstrike that hit his car earlier this week. Pic: AP

Hours after Israel’s acknowledgement of his death, Hezbollah launched scores of Katyusha and Falaq rockets with heavy warheads into northern Israel and the occupied Syrian Golan Heights.

The US and France are continuing to scramble to prevent the skirmishes from spiralling into an all-out war, which they fear could spillover across the region.

Image:
The aftermath of today’s strike on Israel. Pic: Reuters

Image:
Pic: Reuters

Tensions between Israel and Lebanon erupted shortly after the outbreak of the war in Gaza. Hezbollah says it is striking Israel in solidarity with Hamas, another Iran-allied group.

The fighting has displaced tens of thousands of people on both sides of the border.

Image:
Rockets launched from Lebanon to Israel being intercepted yesterday. Pic: Reuters

In northern Israel, 16 soldiers and 11 civilians have been killed.

In Lebanon, more than 450 people – mostly fighters but also dozens of civilians – have been killed.

Read more from Sky News:Warning newborn babies have little chance of survival in GazaHuman remains found in search for girl attacked by crocodileWoman beaten unconscious by soldier demands reform of military

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Today’s strike comes as Israel’s cabinet is set to reconvene to discuss Hamas’s latest response to a US-backed proposal for a phased ceasefire in Gaza.

The US has rallied world support behind the plan that would see the release of all of the hostages still held by the militant group in return for a lasting truce and the withdrawal of Israeli forces from Gaza.

But until now, neither side appears to have fully embraced it.

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