By Arab News
By Najia Houssari
Clashes between the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah and the Israeli army have shown no sign of easing following an appeal by US envoy Amos Hochstein for calm along Lebanon’s southern border.
Hochstein told Lebanese officials that the US wants to stop the war in the Gaza Strip spreading, and that restoring calm along the country’s southern border “must be the highest priority for both Lebanon and Israel.”
However, military operations appeared to intensify late on Tuesday after the envoy’s departure from Beirut, with at least 10 Israeli air raids on Lebanese border areas targeting the Marjayoun Plain.
MP Hadi Abu Al-Hassan from the Progressive Socialist Party told Arab News that the message that Hochstein carried to Lebanon “should have been directed to the Israeli enemy and not to Lebanon.”
Israel should be told to stop its daily bombing and violation of Lebanese sovereignty, he added.
Abu Al-Hassan said his party’s communication with Hezbollah and other groups is aimed at avoiding war.
“Things are under control so far within certain rules,” he said.
According to leaks to the Lebanese media, Hochstein told Lebanese parliamentary speaker Nabih Berri that Washington is prepared to settle the dispute over land border points between Lebanon and Israel when the fighting ends.
The US envoy informed Lebanese officials that “the White House is keen to keep Lebanon away from the Gaza war, and the discussion is currently focused on a truce in the (Lebanese) south similar to the truce being discussed for the Gaza Strip.”
He underlined US support for the Lebanese army and the need to prevent rockets being launched from the UNIFIL forces’ area of operation.
The US Embassy said in a statement that Hochstein emphasized Washington’s “deep concern for Lebanon and its people during this difficult time.”
He also offered his condolences for the civilian lives lost.
On Wednesday, Hezbollah launched missile attacks on Israeli military locations, including the Al-Bayyad and Al-Asi sites. The Israeli army retaliated with shelling of villages and towns.
Israeli forces continued to use fragmentation bombs to set fire to forests on the outskirts of the towns of Halta and Kfar Shuba.
Sheikh Nabil Qaouk, a member of Hezbollah’s Central Council, said that the group will respond to any attack on civilians “in a more severe and harsh manner without hesitation or delay.”
Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah is scheduled to deliver a second speech within a week on Saturday. In his first address, he linked the escalation of Hezbollah’s involvement in the war to the course of the military operation in Gaza and Israeli army actions directed at Lebanon.
However, 48 hours after the first speech, Israel targeted paramedics inside two ambulances, injuring four people. On the evening of the same day, a drone strike destroyed two civilian cars, killing three children and their grandmother, and seriously wounding their mother, who was driving one of the vehicles.
More than 60 Hezbollah fighters have died since Oct. 8, while the number of civilian deaths has reached 10.
Meanwhile, the Lebanese Army Intelligence Service’s Tripoli Port Security Office said on Wednesday that a shipment of military equipment originating in Turkiye had been seized and one person arrested.