In A Video Message, Israel Warns Of Escalation Due To Hezbollah’s Cross-Border Fire From Lebanon – News18

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Israeli military spokesperson Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari at a location given as Gaza, in this still image taken from video released November 13, 2023. (Reuters)

Israeli military spokesperson Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari at a location given as Gaza, in this still image taken from video released November 13, 2023. (Reuters)

Israeli military warns of heightened tensions due to Hezbollah’s cross-border attacks from Lebanon, risking regional escalation

In a video message on Sunday, the Israeli military warned that intensified cross-border fire from Lebanon’s Hezbollah movement into Israel could trigger serious escalation amid the ongoing war in Gaza.

Hezbollah last week unleashed its most extensive barrage yet of rockets and drones in the ongoing eight-month conflict with the Israeli military, running parallel to the Gaza war. Following the heavy exchanges over the past week, Sunday saw a marked drop in Hezbollah fire. The Israeli military said that it had carried out several air strikes against the group in southern Lebanon.

“Hezbollah’s increasing aggression is bringing us to the brink of what could be a wider escalation, one that could have devastating consequences for Lebanon and the entire region,” Israeli military spokesperson Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari said in a video statement. “Israel has a duty to defend the people of Israel. We will fulfill that duty.”

The US and France are working on a negotiated settlement to the hostilities along Lebanon’s southern border. Hezbollah says it will not halt fire unless Israel stops its military offensive on Gaza. “Israel will take the necessary measures to protect its civilians — until security along our border with Lebanon is restored,” Hagari said.

Two UN officials in Lebanon warned there was a “very real” risk that a miscalculation along Lebanon’s southern border could trigger a wider conflict, The Times Of Israel reported. In a statement, the UN special coordinator for Lebanon, Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert, and the head of UN peacekeeping forces in Lebanon, Aroldo Lazaro, said that they were “deeply concerned” about the escalation along Lebanon’s border.

Meanwhile, US officials were also increasingly concerned that an all-out war could break out after eight months of skirmishes, since Hezbollah began attacking Israel in October in support of Hamas in Gaza. According to US media reports, a senior adviser to US President Joe Biden will arrive in Israel on Monday to try to put a lid on the escalation.

‘Unacceptable to him’

This escalation comes as the Israeli military announced the daily pauses in the area from the Kerem Shalom Crossing to the Salah al-Din Road and then northwards. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu criticised plans announced by the military to hold daily tactical pauses in fighting along one of the main roads into Gaza to facilitate aid delivery into the Palestinian enclave.

“When the prime minister heard the reports of an 11-hour humanitarian pause in the morning, he turned to his military secretary and made it clear that this was unacceptable to him,” an Israeli official said. The military clarified that normal operations would continue in Rafah, the main focus of its operation in southern Gaza, where eight soldiers were killed on Saturday.

The reaction from the Israeli PM hints towards political tensions over the issue of aid coming into Gaza, where international groups have warned of a growing humanitarian crisis. Israeli National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir, who leads one of the nationalist religious parties in Netanyahu’s ruling coalition, denounced the idea of a tactical pause, saying whoever decided it was a “fool” who should lose their job.

(With agency inputs)