The Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) gave evacuation orders to 28 villages near the northern border with Lebanon due to rising hostilities with Hezbollah terrorists. The move comes after an Israeli civilian and a soldier were killed on Sunday and anti-tank missiles were fired from Lebanon which struck one of the villages and an army outpost.
The IDF claimed it struck Hezbollah terrorist outposts in response. The Iran-backed terror group has earlier said that it is ready to join Hamas in the war against Israel.
The IDF also accused Iran of ordering the attacks on Israel.
Hezbollah fought a war against Israel in 2006 and is Lebanon’s most powerful military force. It is more powerful than the Lebanese army and can drag the country into a war without government permission as it also has politicians in the Lebanese parliament.
It can strike deep into Israeli territory with its long-range rockets.
Hezbollah observation outposts are constructed right opposite to the Israel-Lebanon border and residents living in the villages near the frontier have already evacuated. The villages now only have IDF soldiers and civil volunteers.
A report by the BBC said a civilian was killed in the border village of Shtula on Sunday.
In a separate incident, a rocket struck the headquarters of the UN peacekeeping force in Lebanon, Unifil, in the city of Naqoura but no injuries were reported. At least nine rockets have been fired from Lebanon into Israel and five of them were intercepted. IDF claims it struck the launch sites in response to the attacks.
The region near the border has become restive and is also impacting civilians, including journalists conducting their duties. Reuters news agency cameraman, Issam Abdallah, was killed by shellfire while reporting near the Lebanese village of Alma al-Shaab.
Lebanon has claimed that Issam died due to IDF shelling. The IDF said it is investigating Lebanon’s claims.
Israel has maintained that it has “no interest in a war in the north” but deployed tens of thousands of additional soldiers along the border over the past week. “If Hezbollah chooses the path of war, it will pay a very heavy price. Very heavy. But if it restrains itself, we will respect that and keep the situation as it is,” Israeli defence minister Yoav Gallant said.
The terrorist group’s backer, Iran, told Israel that if atrocities in Gaza do not stop then “Iran cannot simply remain an observer”.