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The UN chief warned Israel and Hezbollah about the risk of wider war

After months of escalating violence along Israel’s northern border with Lebanon, the United Nations chief warned Friday that “the risk of conflict in the greater Middle East is real – and must be avoided.”

Speaking to reporters in New York, the head, Secretary-General António Guterres, said that “a hasty move” by Israel or Hezbollah, the Iran-backed Lebanese group targeting Israel with allegiance to the Hamas militants in Gaza, could cause a “protracted disaster”. far beyond borders and frankly beyond imagination.”

World leaders have for months tried to defuse tensions between Israel and Hezbollah, trying to prevent an all-out war. But instead of quelling the conflict, cross-border strikes and counterstrikes have become more violent – ​​and the rhetoric of leaders on both sides has only become more bellicose in recent days, making Mr. Guterres must express what he calls “deep concern” that all-War will break out.

“Many lives have been lost, tens of thousands displaced, homes and livelihoods destroyed,” Mr. Guterres said. He added that “the people of the region and the people of the world cannot let Lebanon become another Gaza.”

Since Hezbollah began exchanging fire with Israeli forces following a Hamas-led attack on Israel on October 7, more than 100 civilians in Israel and Lebanon have been killed and more than 150,000 people have been displaced from their homes. . The exchanges have also sparked wildfires on both sides of the border.

The Israeli military said in a statement Friday that it had “successfully intercepted a suspicious aerial target coming from Lebanese territory” and that “several launches have been identified going from Lebanon to several areas.” in northern Israel”. The army said it responded with artillery fire in southern Lebanon on Friday and aircraft strikes on “terrorist targets” in four areas, including Lebanese military facilities. Hezbollah, and that “overnight” Israeli warplanes “attacked the infrastructure of Hezbollah terrorists.”

Secretary of State Israel Katz said: in a social media post on Friday that “Israel cannot allow the terrorist organization Hezbollah to continue to attack its territory and citizens, and we will soon make the necessary decisions.” He added that “the free world must stand with Israel unconditionally” against Iran and the militant groups it supports.

“Our fight is also your fight,” he said.

Mr. Katz’s comments were an apparent response to Hassan Nasrallah, the Lebanese militia leader, who said on Wednesday that “no place will be safe from their missiles and drones.” me” in Israel if a full-blown war breaks out.

Mr. Nasrallah also threatened to draw Cyprus into the conflict if it allowed Israel to use its airports and bases in a wider regional war. Cyprus and Israel have a bilateral defense agreement and the two countries have conducted joint military exercises in the past. But President Nikos Christodoulides of Cyprus said his country was “absolutely not involved in any way” in the comments posted on social networks.

Mr. Nasrallah’s threat confirmed the concerns of world leaders trying to contain conflict, and highlighted how quickly fighting can escalate and drag on. President Biden, hoping to defuse the simmering conflict, sent one of his senior aides, Amos Hochstein, to Israel on Monday and to Lebanon on Tuesday to push for a diplomatic solution .


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