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Lebanon in December 2023

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December 5, 2023

  1. Israel’s Strategic Misstep with Hizballah: Military Expert. Israeli General Kobi Marom warns of a grave strategic mistake in Israel’s approach to Lebanon’s Hizballah. He criticizes Israel’s response to the recent attack, stressing the significant security challenge posed by Hizballah in the north. Marom urges the Israeli government to define clear objectives and increase attacks on the front lines, calling for immediate talks with the U.S. to address regional security concerns.
  2. Border Tensions: Hizballah Targets Israeli Soldiers. Recent developments on the Lebanon-Israel border include Hizballah targeting Israeli soldiers in two separate incidents, resulting in direct hits. Concurrently, Israeli artillery shelled several southern Lebanese towns. Israeli warplanes carried out raids, and missiles launched from Lebanon struck a fortified Israeli military site, causing severe damage. Tensions remain high, marked by frequent cross-border exchanges of fire.

December 6, 2023

  1. Israeli Shelling Targets Border Towns in Southern Lebanon. Israeli artillery shelled the outskirts of the border towns of Mehabib and Blida in southern Lebanon. The Lebanese National News Agency reported the Israeli artillery targeting, expressing Israeli regret for unintentionally injuring Lebanese soldiers. The Israeli military claimed self-defense against an identified threat from Hezbollah within a recognized launch area. The incident resulted in the death of one Lebanese soldier and injuries to three others. This marks the first military casualty since hostilities began on the border following Hamas’ attack on Israel in October.
  2. Israeli Army Issues Rare Apology for Killing Lebanese Soldier in Airstrike. In a rare statement, the Israeli army expresses regret for the death of a Lebanese soldier in a strike targeting a Hezbollah site. This marks the first Lebanese soldier casualty since cross-border hostilities began in October.
  3. Israeli Defense Minister: Hezbollah to be Pushed Behind the Litani River through International Settlement. Israeli Defense Minister, Yoav Galant, stated that Hezbollah will be pushed behind the Litani River through an international settlement based on a UN decision. If the diplomatic solution fails, military action will be taken to remove Hezbollah from the borders. Hezbollah responded with attacks on Israeli soldiers near the Lebanon border, emphasizing support for Palestinian resistance in Gaza.

December 7, 2023

  1. Israeli Forces Continue to Target Hizballah Targets in South Lebanon. Israel conducted artillery strikes in southern Lebanon, targeting areas near Hula and Markaba. Israeli artillery also struck Wadi Saluki, triggering alarms in the Margaliot settlement and Rameem barracks in Wadi Honeen, northern Israel. Israel claimed its jets hit Hezbollah targets in Lebanon, including infrastructure and military sites. Israeli reconnaissance aircraft were reported over western and central Lebanon. 

December 8, 2023

  1. IDF and Hezbollah Exchange Fire Across Israel-Lebanon Border. The Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) retaliated with artillery and a drone strike against attacks near the Lebanon border, targeting a post near Mattat and an armed cell near Mount Dov. Concurrently, Hezbollah launched missiles at Israeli sites, and Israeli forces bombarded towns in southern Lebanon, including Wadi Hassan and Marjayoun. An Israeli Apache helicopter struck a residence in Marwahin, injuring an elderly woman. The Islamic Resistance claimed to have hit an Israeli base near Kherbet Maar.
  2. French Delegation to Arrive in Beirut from Israel. A joint French delegation from defense and foreign ministries arrives in Beirut from Israel. The delegation aims to explore diplomatic solutions for the ongoing border clashes with Hezbollah. Israel, expressing a willingness for a diplomatic resolution, warns that patience is running out. The visit follows recent secret meetings by French officials in Lebanon.

December 12, 2023

  1. Israel Open to Hezbollah Agreement as Imminent Deal Talks Emerge. Israeli Defense Minister expresses openness to a Hezbollah agreement, citing conditions for a “safe zone” and security assurances. Unnamed sources suggest an imminent deal, detailing potential monitoring sites and the role of Lebanese and French forces. The proposed agreement awaits U.S. guarantees, and talks emphasize changing the border situation with Lebanon.

December 13, 2023

  1. White House Probes Alleged Israeli Use of U.S.-Made White Phosphorus in Lebanon. The White House is investigating reports that Israel used U.S.-supplied white phosphorus in Lebanon. National Security Council spokesman John Kirby expressed concern and the need for more information. Lebanon accused Israel of using the incendiary weapon, a claim supported by a Washington Post analysis of shell fragments. White phosphorus, while legal for battlefield illumination and as a smokescreen, is banned as a chemical weapon. The U.S. expects its military supplies to be used lawfully, amidst reports of civilian injuries and environmental damage in Lebanon.
  2. Iran and Lebanon FMs Discuss Palestinian Situation in Geneva.Iranian and Lebanese foreign ministers meet in Geneva to discuss regional issues, focusing on the Palestinian situation. Amirabdollahian emphasizes the need for the U.S. to cease support for Israel, condemning Zionist war crimes. The ministers underscore the importance of anti-Zionist resistance, affirming solidarity amid ongoing regional complexities.

December 14, 2023

  1. Hezbollah Aggression Raises Buffer Zone Questions. Hezbollah’s actions, including the targeting of Israeli soldiers and the announcement of a member’s death, signal an escalation in its conflict with Israel. This intensification follows a series of IDF strikes on Hezbollah sites in Lebanon, in retaliation to rocket and missile attacks. With the IDF having attacked over 110 terror squads since the onset of the war, both sides are deeply engaged in intensive military operations. Israel remains on high alert, and Hezbollah’s continued offensive actions point towards further escalation. Given these ongoing military escalations and Hezbollah’s active operations, it seems improbable that Hezbollah would endorse a buffer zone initiative that aims to de-escalate tensions with Israel. Their ongoing aggressive military engagements suggest a preference for maintaining the current level of conflict.
  2. Cabinet Expected to Approve Aoun’s Term Extension, Hezbollah and PSP to Abstain. The Lebanese Cabinet is set to address the extension of Army chief General Joseph Aoun’s term during its Friday session. The extension is likely to be approved, with Hezbollah and the Progressive Socialist Party expected to abstain from voting. However, this approval may face legal challenges, with indications that the Free Patriotic Movement might appeal the decision before the State Shoura Council.

December 15, 2023

  1. U.S. Ambassador Spearheads Stability in Lebanon. Following the approval of a law proposal to extend the tenure of army and security service commander, Joseph Aoun in Lebanon for a year, U.S. Ambassador Dorothy Shea spearheaded diplomatic efforts to bolster Lebanese security. Collaborating with British and Canadian ambassadors, Shea focused on enhancing border security with Syria and maintaining peace along the Blue Line. Her role was instrumental in supporting the extension of General Aoun’s tenure, emphasizing the U.S.’s commitment to Lebanon’s institutional stability and regional peace initiatives. France’s Foreign Minister, Catherine Colonna, also visited Lebanon to address wider regional conflicts, urging restraint along the Israeli-Lebanese border and diplomatic efforts for the release of French hostages.
  2. Tensions Escalate on Israeli-Lebanese Borders. Recently, Israel dropped warning leaflets in Kfar Shuba, near Shebaa Farms, cautioning against Hezbollah’s presence. This action follows a series of cross-border hostilities, including Israeli shelling near Houla and Mays al-Jabal. The escalation, linked to Hezbollah’s operations against Israeli targets and Israel’s retaliatory bombings, has led to significant casualties and destruction in border areas. This situation marks a severe increase in conflict since the 2006 war between Israel and Hezbollah.

December 19, 2023

  1. Escalation on the Southern Front: Israel Widens Shelling. The Israeli military intensifies artillery strikes on several villages and towns in Lebanon’s south. Israeli forces targeted homes in Al-Abassiyeh, conducted intermittent shelling in various towns, and launched anti-tank missiles near the Lebanese border. Hezbollah responded with three military operations, striking Israeli military positions in both the eastern and western sectors along the Lebanese-Palestinian border.
  2. Strategic Maneuvers in Army Commander Extension Debate. Lebanon’s political maneuvering around the extension of Army Commander General Joseph Aoun’s term reveals tactical moves by political factions. The article underscores the careful balance between supporting Christian allies and avoiding undermining the presidency’s importance. The focus is on maintaining Christian positions while sending nuanced signals to internal and external stakeholders, navigating a complex political landscape.
  3. Mikati Commends Lebanese Solidarity amid Ongoing Conflicts. Caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati praises Lebanon’s resilience and unity in the face of ongoing challenges, emphasizing the need for a swift presidential election and the continuation of parliamentary and governmental functions.
  4. Israel Proposes Hezbollah Withdrawal to Ease Border Tensions. Israel reportedly informed the United States of its desire to push Hezbollah six miles away from the Lebanese border as part of a diplomatic agreement to de-escalate border tensions. Israeli officials, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, emphasized the need for progress in the coming weeks.

December 20, 2023

  1. Hamas’s Lebanon Wing Targets Northern Israel. Hamas’s armed wing in Lebanon, Al-Qassam Brigades, claims responsibility for firing 12 missiles at Kiryat Shmona Airport barracks in northern Israel. The attack is in response to alleged Israeli aggression in Gaza. Tensions escalate along the Lebanese-Israeli border.
  2. IDF Eliminates Hezbollah Operatives; Tensions Rise with Lebanon. The IDF targets Hezbollah in southern Lebanon, citing the group’s defense of Hamas-ISIS, jeopardizing Lebanon. Escalating exchanges include drone infiltrations, rocket launches, and strikes. French Minister warns of catastrophic consequences if Lebanon plunges into war. Tensions heighten as Israel intercepts launches, and Hezbollah confirms casualties, bringing the total to 115 since October 8. IDF emphasizes the proximity to war and the dangerous game Hezbollah is playing.
  3. Hezbollah Confirms Death of Two Members in Israeli Shelling. Hezbollah announced the death of two of its members in southern Lebanon amid ongoing clashes with Israel. The border region witnesses escalating military tensions, with Hezbollah conducting daily operations against Israeli military targets, framed as support for Gaza.
  4. France Warns of Escalation as Lebanese Leaders Criticize Israeli Aggression. During her recent visit to Beirut, French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna expressed concern about the potential escalation, urging Lebanon and Israel to adhere to UN Resolution 1701. Lebanese Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri criticized Colonna for visiting an Israeli military base, emphasizing that Israel, as the aggressor, must respect the resolution’s provisions. Berri underscored Lebanon’s desire for peace while condemning Israeli violations of its sovereignty.

December 21, 2023

  1. Hezbollah’s Escalation at Israel’s Northern Front: Anti-Tank Missile Strikes and Ongoing Tensions. In recent developments along the Israel-Hezbollah conflict’s northern front, two Israeli civilians were wounded in Moshav Dovev by an anti-tank missile fired from Lebanon. A similar strike occurred in Moshav Avivim, resulting in vehicle fires but no injuries. Israel’s Iron Dome intercepted rockets targeting Kiryat Shmona. In response, Israeli forces conducted airstrikes on Hezbollah positions in Lebanon. This escalation follows a series of intermittent hostilities, including rocket barrages by Hezbollah and preemptive Israeli strikes. The Israeli army executed substantial strikes in southern Lebanon, marking an unprecedented move since the Second Lebanon War. These actions come after increased tensions, including infiltration attempts, missile firings, and shootings towards Israeli towns. Hezbollah launched rockets at Kiryat Shmona, vowing to defend Lebanese communities and support Gaza against Israeli attacks. Israel retaliated with airstrikes on Hezbollah military sites. Meanwhile, Lebanon reiterated its commitment to UN Resolution 1701 and called for Israel’s withdrawal from Lebanese territories still under occupation at the United Nations General Assembly, citing ongoing Israeli violations of international law.
  2. U.S. Charges Hezbollah Member for 1994 Buenos Aires Bombing. A senior Hezbollah member, Samuel Salman El Reda, has been charged with terrorism offenses, including the deadly bombing of a Buenos Aires building in 1994 that killed 85 people. He remains at large and is believed to be in Lebanon. The indictment alleges his involvement in planning and executing the attack and his role in recruiting and managing operatives for the Islamic Jihad Organization, a segment of Hezbollah focused on terrorism and intelligence activities outside of Lebanon.

 

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