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  • Smoke rises from shells fired from Israel in Maroun Al-Ras village, near the border with Israel, in southern Lebanon.

    Smoke rises from shells fired from Israel in Maroun Al-Ras village, near the border with Israel, in southern Lebanon. | Photo: Reuters

Published 1 September 2019

It's the first time in years that both sides trade fire, which constitutes a source of concern in the region.

Following days of surging tensions, violent clashes took place Sunday at the border between Israel and southern Lebanon as the former exchanged fire with the Hezbollah Movement.

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Israeli forces said they fired into southern Lebanon as retaliation to several anti-tank missiles sent by Hezbollah to an army base and a military ambulance. The Israeli army said the missiles hit several targets in the Israeli border town of Avivim.

Hezbollah, the political party and militant group backed by Iran, confirmed the attack and added its fighters fired at the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) base and destroyed an Israeli army vehicle near the frontier. The group said it killed and wounded people inside.

Israel, however, denied the attack led to any death or injuries on its side.

Following Hezbollah's attack, Israel responded with heavy shelling, claiming to have hit at least 100 targets inside Lebanon. It was not immediately clear if there had been casualties on the Lebanese side.

Subsequently to the events that appeared to have simmered down by the end of Sunday, Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri said he called United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and France's top diplomat to discuss the incidents.

Hariri's office said he made the calls "asking the United States and France to intervene in the face of developments at the southern border.”

It's the first time in years Hezbollah and Israel trade fire, which constitutes a source of concern in the region.

The event comes after a week of rising tensions. On Aug. 25, an alleged Israeli drone crashed in a Hezbollah-dominated area in the southern suburbs of the Lebanese capital Beirut while another exploded and crashed nearby. The Lebanese group Hezbollah called it an act of aggression and promised to retaliate against the attack. The militant group is also accusing Israel of killing two of its members inside Syria.

On the other hand, the Lebanese army said on Aug. 28 that it opened fire on Israeli drones who violated the Lebanese airspace on its southern border.

Hezbollah was formed in 1985 with the backing of the newly-founded Islamic Republic of Iran as a militant political party. The U.S. designated Hezbollah a foreign terrorist group in 1997, and since then has accused it of serving as a proxy force for Iran in Lebanon.

The group denies such accusations and defines itself through its struggle against Israeli settler-colonialism in Palestine and Lebanon, particularly the 1982 Israeli occupation of South Lebanon, which ended in Israeli defeat and its withdrawal from the country in 2000.

All this comes, as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gears up to another national election on Sept. 17 after he failed to get enough support to form a government in May. 

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