Ghaziyeh: Smoke billows after an Israeli air raid in this southern Lebanese town, 30 kilometres from the border with Israel, on Monday.—AFP
Ghaziyeh: Smoke billows after an Israeli air raid in this southern Lebanese town, 30 kilometres from the border with Israel, on Monday.—AFP

BEIRUT: At least two air strikes hit near the town of Ghaziyeh on Lebanon’s coast around 60 km (37 miles) north of the border with Israel on Monday, according to witnesses in the area.

The witnesses heard several loud booms and saw two thick black columns of smoke emanating from around the town. Lebanon’s state media said the strikes were Israeli and that one of them hit a car.

In response to a query, the Israeli military said it was “checking”.

Israel has been carrying out air strikes along the border area in south Lebanon against Hezbollah, which has fired rockets across the frontier. Israel has carried out strikes only rarely further north of the frontier zone.

More than 170 Hezbollah fighters and nearly three dozen civilians have been killed in Israeli strikes on Lebanon since Hezbollah launched rockets onto Israel in support of its Palestinian ally Hamas, according to Hezbollah’s announced figures.Last week, two sets of Israeli strikes on southern Lebanon killed 10 civilians and several Hezbollah fighters, including a commander in the group’s elite Radwan force.

Hezbollah chief Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah said Israel would pay “in blood” for the killings of civilians.

Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz said Lebanon would “pay a heavy price” if diplomatic means failed to remove Hezbollah from the border zone.

“Israeli warplanes carried out... strikes on the town of Ghaziyeh,” the state-run National News Agency (NNA) said, adding that a vehicle was targeted and ambulances rushed to the scene, without providing further details.

While most the exchanges in recent months have been limited to areas near the frontier, Ghaziyeh is some 30 kilometres from the nearest Israeli frontier and less than five kilometres from the city of Sidon.One of the strikes appeared to have targeted a hangar close to the main coastal highway, the photographer added.

The NNA had earlier in the afternoon reported an “enemy drone” at low altitude over the Sidon area.

Video circulating on social media showed large plumes of smoke arising from at least two strikes.On Friday, Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah vowed that Israel would pay “with blood” for civilians it killed in Lebanon in recent days, warning the group had missiles that could reach anywhere in Israel.

He warned that his movement has “precision-guided missiles that can reach... Eilat”, on Israel’s Red Sea coast, well beyond the northern towns it usually targets. The latest uptick in violence has caused international alarm, with fears growing of another full-blown war between Israel and Hezbollah like that of 2006.

Published in Dawn, February 20th, 2024

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