Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri called for “intervention” on Sunday by the international community in the face of escalating tensions.
The Israeli army announced on Sunday, September 1, that it was conducting strikes in southern Lebanon in retaliation for anti-tank missile fire that hit targets on its territory. “Anti-tank missiles have been fired from Lebanon into a military base and vehicles. Targets have been hit. The army] is retaliating with fire towards the source of these strikes and targeting southern Lebanon,” the Israeli army said in a statement.
The text does not report any injuries but asks the population living within 4 kilometers of the Lebanese border to stay at home and open the bomb shelters. The Israeli military has also blocked access to the border for journalists who want to approach it.
According to the Lebanese National Agency ANI, “the outskirts of the town of Maroun al-Ras, in the Bint Jbeil area[in southern Lebanon], are the target of sporadic Israeli enemy bombardments”.
Faced with this escalation, Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri on Sunday called for “intervention” by Paris and Washington, according to a statement from his office. He met by phone with US Chief of Diplomacy Mike Pompeo and an adviser to French President Emmanuel Macron to ask for “the intervention of the United States, France, and the international community in response to developments in Lebanon’s southern border”, the statement said.
UNIFIL, the UN peacekeeping force deployed in southern Lebanon on the border with Israel, called on all parties on Sunday to “exercise maximum restraint” and “cease all activities that threaten the cessation of hostilities”.
Action claimed by Hezbollah
Lebanese Hezbollah earlier Sunday claimed to have “destroyed” an Israeli army vehicle in the Avivim area of northern Israel, reporting “deaths and injuries”, according to the Al-Manar channel, an organ of the Shia formation. “At 4:15 p.m. (3:15 p.m. Paris time), a Hezbollah fighter unit “destroyed a military vehicle on the road to the Avivim barracks” in northern Israel bordering Lebanon, according to the Hezbollah statement shared by Al-Manar.
Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah had already announced on Saturday that he had decided to “retaliate” against last week’s drone “attack” on his stronghold in Beirut and attributed it to Israel. Israel must “pay the price” for this attack and it is for Hezbollah to “establish rules of engagement and (…) a logic of protection for the country,” he said.
Israel had not confirmed the drone attack, which occurred on August 24 in the Shiite suburbs of southern Beirut and was described as a “declaration of war” by Lebanese President Michel Aoun. The attack was presented by Hassan Nasrallah as Israel’s “first act of aggression” in Lebanon since the 2006 war between the Jewish State and Hezbollah, which killed 1,200 Lebanese and 160 Israeli civilians.