Israel attacks Hizbullah target in Lebanon close to border

Army mounts strike with warplanes and artillery on strategic Islamist compound inside neighbouring country

The Israeli army announced on Tuesday that it had mounted an attack with warplanes and artillery on a strategic Hizbullah compound in Lebanon, near the Israeli border. The attack came a day after UN secretary general António Guterres warned Lebanon and Israel against escalating cross-border strikes which could, by design or accident, lead to full-scale war. He said: “We cannot see in Lebanon what we are seeing in Gaza.”

Daily exchanges of missiles and drones began after the October 7th raid into Israel by Hamas fighters who, the Israeli daily Haaretz reported, killed 1,151 people and abducted 240.

Israel has recently escalated hostilities by mounting air raids deep into Lebanon, while Hizbullah has fired tank rounds at Israeli military posts and settlements. Last month, Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu warned that Beirut and southern Lebanon would be turned into Gaza if war erupts.

Mr Guterres told Hizbullah and the Israeli army to “de-escalate and bring hostilities to an end in accordance with Security Council Resolution 1701″. This resolution, which halted the 2006 war, calls for the Lebanese army to deploy along a UN delineated Blue Line border and the creation of a buffer zone north of the border. Last week, a ceasefire and an implementation of Resolution 1701 was discussed by Israeli-born US mediator Amos Hochstein, Lebanese prime minister Najib Mikati and parliamentary speaker Nabih Berri.


The exchanges have killed 150 Hizbullah fighters and 27 Lebanese civilians, 12 Israeli troops and six Israeli civilians. According to the UN, 82,000 Lebanese have fled their homes in 91 southern villages. Dozens of buildings have been destroyed. L’Orient Today said 81 per cent of displaced people are hosted by families, while 16 per cent are in rented flats.

While Israel says 96,000 Israelis have left northern towns and kibbutzim to be housed out of range by the government in hotels, the impact of the exchanges has been far greater for Lebanon which, since 2019, has suffered its worst economic and political crisis.

Lebanon’s economy ministry reported that the fertile south, which produces 22 per cent of the country’s fruit and 38 per cent of its olives, has been hit hard. Agriculture contributes 80 per cent to the gross domestic product of the south. Nearly 50,000 olive trees have been burnt and grains and winter crops have diminished, while 1.4 million of 5.6 million residents are food-insecure.

According to the Washington-based Tahrir Institute for Middle East policy, the conflict “marks the first time agricultural areas in Lebanon have been this openly and extensively targeted” with white phosphorus bombs which cause “serious environmental and economic damage”.

Lebanon’s National Early Warning System estimated that 800 hectares have been destroyed by fire caused by Israeli attacks.

Israeli munitions have produced an increase in air, water and soil pollution. “The toxic compounds from explosive weapons, with white phosphorus usage, further reduces fertility [of farmland] and increases soil acidity,” the UN reported.

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Michael Jansen

Michael Jansen

Michael Jansen contributes news from and analysis of the Middle East to The Irish Times