newsIsrael at War

Hezbollah ‘dragging Lebanon into war,’ IDF warns

80,000 Israelis displaced from the north; since Oct. 8, Hezbollah has fired over 1,000 munitions at Israel.

An Israeli artillery unit shells a terrorist target in Lebanon, Dec. 11, 2023. Photo by Ayal Margolin/Flash90.
An Israeli artillery unit shells a terrorist target in Lebanon, Dec. 11, 2023. Photo by Ayal Margolin/Flash90.

The Iranian-backed Hezbollah terrorist army in Lebanon “is dangerously dragging Lebanon into an unnecessary war,” Israel Defense Forces Spokesman Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus warned on Monday.

He noted that since Oct. 8, a day after Hamas’s mass murder attack on the northwestern Negev, Hezbollah has fired more than 1,000 rounds of ammunition of different types, including rockets, missiles, drones and mortar shells, towards Israel, causing civilian and military casualties.

Five Israeli civilians and nine military personnel have been killed by enemy fire. More than a hundred Hezbollah members have been killed by Israeli retaliatory strikes, according to estimates.

“The situation along the northern border along the [U.N.-delineated] Blue Line is not one that we can tolerate, and we are looking for safety for Israeli civilians living behind our internationally established and recognized borders,” said Conricus.

“We as the IDF will welcome any diplomatic solution that will be found to the presence of Hezbollah in Southern Lebanon and their systemic violation of [U.N. Security Council Resolution] 1701 and their continued acts of aggression towards Israel. If a diplomatic solution will be found, that would be very good if it is a sustainable and solid solution. If not, the IDF is prepared and will use the tools at its disposal in order to defend its civilians and allow them to return safely to their homes and continue living their lives,” he cautioned.

“We’re talking about more than 80,000 Israeli civilians that have been evacuated from their homes as a preventive measure now for more than 70 days,” Conricus said.

“And just as Israel didn’t start and didn’t ask for the war that started on the 7th of October by Hamas attack against Israel, we have not started the fighting with Hezbollah, Hezbollah is entirely the aggressor. And we will of course defend ourselves, defend our sovereignty and defend our civilians,” he said.

Hezbollah has fired across the Blue Line from Rosh Hanikra in the west to Mount Dov in the east with assorted weapons, according to IDF data.

Hezbollah’s attacks since Oct. 8 have triggered air-raid sirens as far south as Haifa’s bayside suburbs.

“We’re talking about 60 and 80 millimeter mortar shells, which are typically shorter range and more tactical weapons. We’re talking about 120mm mortars, different Grad rockets, Grad 20, hundreds of those, and other short and medium range rockets that have been aimed at both military and civilian targets,” the military spokesman said. “They have also fired dozens, and I cannot be more accurate than that, dozens of anti-air missiles towards obviously Israeli aircraft and other aerial targets.”

Consequences for Lebanon

Hezbollah has been increasing attacks against Israel and targeting both civilians and military, he added.

“We have been responding by striking Hezbollah targets, military targets in Lebanon, of course, south of the Litani [River] specifically, and we have been striking Hezbollah targets at various locations. Hezbollah, who as everybody knows, is a proxy of Iran, is dangerously dragging Lebanon into an unnecessary war that could have potential devastating consequences for the state of Lebanon and for the people of Lebanon,” said Conricus.

“And as we said before, we understand that Israeli civilians cannot go back to the situation that existed along our borders, not around Gaza, the ‘Gaza envelope,’ and not along the Blue Line with Lebanon, before the security situation changes significantly,” he said.

“Today, Israelis are not safe and it is our top priority to return safety to Israeli civilians, and we see it as an existential threat to Israeli civilians who live close to the border,” he continued.

“We see Hezbollah’s continued violation of U.N. Security Resolution 1701 as very severe. Frankly, 1701 has been rendered effectively null and void,” he stated. “There is not one single component of 1701 that is relevant and active today, and that has of course international and regional consequences,” Conricus said.

Israel is not rushing towards a military or kinetic solution to the problem, he stressed.

He drew attention to a reoccurring pattern by Hezbollah from the first days of fighting, whereby it deliberately fires from very close to Lebanese Armed Forces and UNIFIL positions, “most likely with the intention of causing our retaliatory fire towards them to injure or kill Lebanese Armed Forces and UNIFIL [personnel].

“We of course take extra precautions,” said Conricus. “We do everything we can in order to focus our fire and to strike only the military targets that endanger our civilians or troops according to the laws of arms conflict, contrary to the activity and behavior of our enemies.”

In the north on Monday, an Israeli Air Force attack struck the area from which launches were fired from Lebanon earlier in the day.

Terrorists fired anti-tank missiles towards the area of Moshav Avivim in the Eastern Galilee.

In response, IDF artillery struck in Lebanese territory.

Earlier, following air-raid sirens that sounded in northern Israel, the IDF Aerial Defense Array intercepted a suspicious aerial target that crossed from Lebanon into Israeli territory. A siren indicating rocket fire sounded as a result of shrapnel from the interception.

Furthermore, launches from Lebanon toward the area of Moshav Ya’ara in the Western Galilee were identified on Monday morning.

IDF artillery struck in Lebanese territory. In addition, IDF soldiers and aircraft attacked an anti-tank missile terrorist cell in Lebanon.

Furthermore, following the sirens that sounded in northern Israel warning of the infiltration of a hostile aircraft in the afternoon, it was determined that the sirens were activated due to rockets fired from Lebanon. IDF artillery struck the sources of the launches.

 IAF fighter jets attacked a series of Hezbollah terror targets, including infrastructure, a launch post and a “military” site.

The 252nd “Sinai” Division

Turning to the south, the IDF said on Monday that in recent weeks, the reservists of the 252nd “Sinai” Division fought in the Beit Hanun area in the northern Gaza Strip, adding that it has now taken control of the area.

“The infantry, armored, engineering and fire support forces of the division decisively defeated the [Hamas] Beit Hanun Battalion, taking control of command and control centers and Hamas terrorist outposts, including schools and public buildings where tunnel shafts and numerous combat means were located,” the military said.

“The division’s forces eliminated many terrorists, destroying weapon caches, missile launch sites aimed towards Israel and underground command centers used by the terror organization. The underground infrastructure of Hamas in the Beit Hanun area was significantly damaged, with the tunnels being dealt with along with their main tunnel routes,” it added.

As part of the operation, forces of the division’s 10th “Harel” Armored Brigade, in cooperation with special forces, exposed the main terror tunnel route of Hamas’s Beit Hanun battalion, which was located in the heart of the eponymous urban center, between city hall, a mosque, a soccer field and a kindergarten.

In the same area, a Hamas combat training compound was uncovered, which included laser shooting training equipment, the IDF said.

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