June 16, 2024

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Israeli raid kills dozens in former school where civilians were sheltering: Live updates

Israeli raid kills dozens in former school where civilians were sheltering: Live updates

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday threatened further military action against Hezbollah in Lebanon, amid growing talk of another large-scale war, even as Israel battles Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

Two days after Hezbollah fighters launched a barrage of rockets and detonated drones from Lebanon into northern Israel, igniting several forest fires, Netanyahu visited soldiers and firefighters in the area and said the IDF was prepared to strike.

He said, according to what the Israeli government reported: “Whoever believes that he is able to harm us and we will respond by sitting on our hands is making a big mistake.” He added: “We are ready to carry out very intensive work in the north. One way or another, we will restore security to the north.”

Other Israeli officials have threatened to wage war in Lebanon against Hezbollah, which has escalated its attacks on northern Israel since the war between Israel and Hamas began in October. But the hostile talk carries more weight coming from the highest levels – not just the prime minister but the army chief of staff and a cabinet minister.

Israeli forces and Hezbollah, an Iranian-backed militia and political faction that exercises de facto control over southern Lebanon, have been exchanging blows for months, forcing more than 150,000 people on both sides of the border to flee.

On Monday, the Lebanese Al-Manar TV network, controlled by Hezbollah, broadcast The group said it opened fire on Israeli soldiers In several locations close to the border, fires were lit, allegedly causing casualties.

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Israeli media reported that one of the most severe fires threatened homes in the Israeli town of Kiryat Shmona, near the Lebanese border. This city, like much of the Israeli border region, has been largely evacuated for months, and no casualties have been reported.

On Wednesday, Hezbollah claimed responsibility for another drone attack in the region. The Israeli military said two drones landed in the Hurfish area, a Druze village whose residents are primarily part of Israel’s Arab-Israeli minority. At least 11 people were reported injured, one of them in serious condition. No sirens sounded to warn of the attack, according to the Israeli army, which said it was reviewing the incident.

Such strikes – and threats of more direct military action – have raised concerns about the possibility of Israel waging a war on two fronts.

Matthew Miller, a State Department spokesman, said on Wednesday that the Biden administration remains “deeply concerned” about the risk of escalation between Israel and Hezbollah.

He added: “However, the government of Israel has long emphasized – privately to us, and they have said so publicly as well – that their preferred solution to this conflict is a diplomatic one, and we continue to seek a diplomatic solution.” Miller said.

The Biden administration held talks with Israel and Lebanon, and exchanged messages with Hezbollah through intermediaries. The talks aim to push Hezbollah forces away from the border, according to Lebanese and Israeli officials and other participants.

But Hezbollah has repeatedly said it will not negotiate until the war in Gaza ends, and Israeli military officials said this week they were increasingly frustrated with Hezbollah’s attacks.

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“We are approaching the point where a decision must be made, and the IDF is ready and prepared for this decision,” Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevy, IDF Chief of Staff, said on Tuesday.

Far-right leaders in Israel are calling for war against Hezbollah in Lebanon. “The time has come,” Bezalel Smotrich, Israel’s finance minister, said on social media on Wednesday. “There is full support from the entire people of Israel.”

Israel invaded Lebanon in 1978, 1982 and 2006 in attempts to eliminate militants who launched attacks on Israel.

Adam Rasgon And Efrat Livni Contributed to reports.