Calm On Southern Lebanon Front Allows Displaced To Return To Inspect Damage


By Najia Houssari

Calm returned to Lebanon’s southern border on Friday as a temporary truce took effect in the conflict between Israel and Hamas in Gaza.

Lebanon’s southern front, which Hezbollah considers a “supportive front,” fell silent.

Maj. Gen. Aroldo Lazaro, UN Interim Force in Lebanon’s head of mission and force commander, warned that any escalation of the violence in southern Lebanon could have devastating consequences.

He also voiced concern over the exchange of fire along the Blue Line that had claimed lives, caused significant damage, and threatened people’s livelihoods.

Meanwhile, Italian Defense Minister Guido Crosetto has called for “an in-depth reflection on the UNIFIL’s rules of engagement in Lebanon.”

Crosetto said he would be in the Middle East in the coming days and at the UN on Monday to talk about the future of the UNIFIL mission in Lebanon and issues related to the rules of engagement.

His remarks were reported by Lebanon’s National News Agency, citing the Italian news agency Agenzia Nova.

Crosetto said reflection should assess whether rules were actually in line with the dangers and times.

He added that the situation might explode if mistakes were committed.

He said: “We are trying to avoid an escalation involving Lebanon and Syria in the conflict. This requires us to avoid making mistakes.

“I had some doubts about this issue, and I talked about it with my German, French, and Spanish colleagues.

“We should all ask ourselves to (try and) achieve stability in the region because if it explodes further, it might create problems for the entire Mediterranean region and beyond.”

Concerns over UNIFIL came as the Lebanese army command called on citizens to take precautions against shells — phosphorus munitions and unexploded ordnance — and avoid approaching them.

Ali Rammal, the mayor of Odaisseh village which is located opposite the Israeli Misgav Am settlement, said that people had returned to the area to inspect their houses.

He added: “Last night, the last two missiles landed in the village, and their fragments damaged many cars and houses. Today, we will start to assess the damage. There are also disruptions to telecom and electricity networks.”

A reporter in Tyre told Arab News that displaced people from the vicinity were gradually starting to return.

He said: “As the day progressed, and when everyone had made sure that the ceasefire had taken effect, people went back to inspect their houses, especially those far from the border.”

Another civilian told Arab News: “I did not see significant destruction similar to what we witnessed in 2006, but some facilities have been destroyed, and some houses damaged.”

Some 15 minutes before the start of the ceasefire, the Israeli army targeted the Khiam Valley with two missiles.

However, no hostilities have taken place since 7 a.m. on Friday along the Blue Line — which has been tense for the past 48 days.

Confrontations between the sides have killed 80 Hezbollah fighters. Victims have included four leaders of an elite Hezbollah unit, one of whom is the son of a Hezbollah MP who leads the party’s bloc in parliament.

The violence has also resulted in the deaths of nine Hamas members in Lebanon, including one of the Al-Qassam Brigades’ Palestinian leaders in the country, Khalil Hamed Kharraz, two Turkish members, and two members of the Islamic Jihad Movement.

Arab News

Arab News is Saudi Arabia's first English-language newspaper. It was founded in 1975 by Hisham and Mohammed Ali Hafiz. Today, it is one of 29 publications produced by Saudi Research & Publishing Company (SRPC), a subsidiary of Saudi Research & Marketing Group (SRMG).

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