January 1, 2024

Israeli military says it struck ‘series’ of Hezbollah targets in Lebanon

By Ari Rabinovitch
January 2, 2024 — 5.41am
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Jerusalem: The Israeli military said on Monday it struck a series of targets in Lebanon, including ‘military sites’ where Hezbollah was operating.

It said that earlier five soldiers were wounded by cross-border fire from Lebanon.

The military said that its troops and aircraft “struck a series of targets in Lebanon, including terrorist infrastructure, military sites in which Hezbollah terrorists were operating, and launch posts.”

Black smoke rises from an Israeli airstrike on the outskirts of Aita al-Shaab, a Lebanese border village in November.Credit: AP

Lebanon’s Iran-backed Hezbollah group said on its Telegram account on Monday that three of its fighters were killed in southern Lebanon.

The statement gave no detail about how the three were killed but said they “were martyred on the road to (liberate) Jerusalem”.

Security sources said they were killed in an Israeli raid on two houses in the Lebanese village of Kafr Kila near the border where Hezbollah maintains security control.

Smoke is seen in the sky due to the result of military activity near the border between Israel and Lebanon in Shlomi, Israel.Credit: Getty

Hezbollah, an ally of Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, has been exchanging near-daily fire with Israel across Lebanon’s southern frontier since the eruption of the Israeli-Hamas war in Gaza in early October.

Israel pulled tanks out of some Gaza City districts on Monday, residents said, as it announced plans to shift tactics and cut back on troop numbers.

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The Israeli decision to withdraw some troops from Gaza appears to signal the start of a shift to lower-intensity operations in the north of the Palestinian enclave, although there was still fighting going on there, a U.S. official said on Monday.

Still, fighting raged elsewhere in the Palestinian enclave along with intense bombardment.

“This appears to be the start of the gradual shift to lower-intensity operations in the north that we have been encouraging,” the official said, noting the change reflected the success of the Israeli military in dismantling Hamas’ military capabilities there.

Fighting continued in the north, however, and the revised Israeli tactics did not “reflect any changes in the south,” the official told Reuters.

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US President Joe Biden spoke with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu about Israel’s objectives and the phasing of its military operations in Gaza on Dec. 23, the White House said.

He also underscored the need to protect civilian lives and secure the release of hostages being held by the Hamas Islamist militant group, it said.

The US, Israel’s main ally, has kept up its support for Israel while expressing concern over the growing casualty toll and humanitarian crisis in Gaza.

US officials have urged Israel to shift its military operations in Gaza to a lower-intensity phase that would include more targeted operations focused on the Hamas leadership and its infrastructure.

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The Gaza war was triggered by a surprise Hamas attack on Israeli towns on Oct. 7 that Israel says killed 1200 people. Palestinian health authorities in Hamas-run Gaza say Israel’s offensive there has killed more than 21,978 people and wounded many thousands more. Israel says it has killed approximately 8000 Hamas militants since the war began.

An Israeli official said the new phase of the war could last for months and would include more localised “mopping up” operations. The change will also free up military units in case of a wider conflict along in the north with Lebanon’s Iran-backed Hezbollah.

Reuters

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