There's been a major escalation on the southern Lebanese border for which Israel has issued a very rare apology, following eight weeks of conflict related to the Gaza war.
On Tuesday Israeli shelling in response to ongoing Hezbollah rocket and mortar attacks killed a Lebanese Army soldier - a first in the conflict. Three other soldiers were wounded in the mortar attack. It comes after repeat warnings from Israeli officials, including PM Benjamin Netanyahu, that all of Lebanon could suffer if Hezbollah persists in escalating the attacks.
The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) issued a statement to "express regret" for killing the Lebanese soldier, and explained in a post on X that its fire had targeted a known launch area used by Hezbollah.
The incident marks the first time a member of the armed forces of a sovereign country bordering Israel has died by direct Israeli fire since the Gaza war began.
The US expressed concern over the death, with a government official telling Al Arabiya English, "The Lebanese Armed Forces is an essential institution, not only to the stability and security of Lebanon, but of the entire region."
And France condemned it, saying in a statement:
"France is gravely concerned by the ongoing clashes on the border between Lebanon and Israel. France condemns the Israeli strike which cost the life of a member of the Lebanese armed forces, and sends its sincere condolences to the victim’s relatives," a spokesperson in a daily briefing.
So far, dozens of Hezbollah fighter have been killed, but also civilians and at least one journalist. On the other side, Hezbollah attacks have killed and wounded Israeli troops and civilians. Israel has evacuated dozens of communities that lie within a couple miles of the border as well.
Israel's attack have escalated to include airstrikes on Lebanon in recent days...
The IDF says fighter jets struck several Hezbollah sites in southern Lebanon in response to the attacks on the border today, including an anti-tank guided missile attack that left several soldiers wounded.
The IDF says rockets were also fired from Lebanon at northern Israel,… pic.twitter.com/Nzx8ZPYw4e
— Emanuel (Mannie) Fabian (@manniefabian) December 3, 2023
There have also been earlier reports that UN troops had come under Israeli shelling:
In late November, a UN peacekeeping force in southern Lebanon said that its forces had come under fire from Israeli forces, an incident it called “deeply troubling”.
Noting the Lebanese army confirmation of its soldier killed in Israeli shelling, the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) said that the “Lebanese Armed Forces have not engaged in conflict with Israel”, and that “we have seen a rapid and alarming increase in violence”.
In this latest and other incidents, Israel has said that it is responding to Hezbollah aggression. What's been clear thus far is that neither side wants an unlimited, full-on war. So far the violence has been "contained" - but this could change at any moment.
Earlier today, IDF soldiers operated in self defense to eliminate an imminent threat that had been identified from Lebanon. The threat was identified within a known launch area and observation point of the Hezbollah terrorist organization, near al-Awadi. Hezbollah’s activities…
— Israel Defense Forces (@IDF) December 5, 2023
Lebanon, which lacks a serious air force, also doesn't want to be dragged into a war reminiscent of 2006 - when much of the southern half of the country, including Beirut international airport, was bombed. But further attacks on Lebanese Army posts from Israel could sway public opinion further in Hezbollah's favor.
Wed, 12/06/2023 - 17:20