World News

Response To Aruri Killing ‘Inevitable’, Hezbollah Chief Warns Israel

 

The head of Lebanon’s Iran-backed Hezbollah group warned Israel Friday that it will respond swiftly “on the battlefield” to the killing of Hamas’s deputy leader in its southern Beirut stronghold.

“The response is inevitably coming. We cannot remain silent on a violation of this magnitude because it means the whole of Lebanon would be exposed,” Hassan Nasrallah said in a televised speech.

“The decision is now in the hands of the battlefield,” he said in his second speech since the killing of Saleh al-Aruri.

“Fighters from all areas of the border… will be the ones responding to the dangerous violation in the suburbs,” he added.

READ ALSO: Hamas Deputy Chief Killed In Israeli Airstrikes On Lebanon

A strike on Tuesday, widely assumed to have been carried out by Israel, killed Aruri in Hezbollah’s south Beirut stronghold.

He is the most high-profile Hamas figure to be killed during the war, and his death came in the first strike on the Lebanese capital since hostilities began.

In a speech on Wednesday, Nasrallah had already warned Israel against waging war on Lebanon, threatening that the group’s response would be “without limits”.

Hezbollah and its arch foe Israel have exchanged near-daily fire over their border since the Israel-Hamas war broke out on October 7, but the Aruri killing has led to fears of an escalation.

Palestinians march along a street in Arura, in the occupied West Bank, on January 5, 2024, during a memorial for slain Hamas deputy Saleh al-Aruri, who was killed in a drone strike on a southern Beirut suburb that Lebanese officials said was carried out by Israel. (Photo by Jaafar ASHTIYEH / AFP)

 

Since hostilities began, the group has carried out around 670 operations, targeting 48 Israeli border positions and 11 rear sites, Nasrallah said.

‘Balance of deterrence’

The southern front has opened “a historic opportunity to completely liberate every inch of our Lebanese land”, Nasrallah added, referring to 13 points of dispute along the border with Israel.

Hezbollah has imposed a “balance of deterrence”, including by opening a southern front, that will help Lebanon gain control of disputed territory “after this phase ends and after the aggression on Gaza”, he said.

His comments come at a time when Western diplomats have flocked to Beirut to seek restraint and a solution — which could include a border settlement.

The leader of the powerful Shiite movement also accused Israel of underreporting soldier deaths and injuries, claiming Hezbollah has released footage showing “tanks exploding… sometimes with soldiers sitting on top of them”.

Nearly three months of cross-border fire have left 175 people in Lebanon dead, including 129 Hezbollah fighters, but also more than 20 civilians including three journalists, according to an AFP tally.

In northern Israel, nine soldiers and at least four civilians have been killed, according to Israeli authorities.

Ignatius Igwe

An energetic journalist with an amazing sense of responsibility.

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