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Lebanon in January 2024

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3-1-2024

  1. Escalating Hostilities between Israel and Hezbollah in Southern Lebanon. Hezbollah announced it targeted a group of Israeli soldiers near the Al-Marj site, resulting in casualties. In response, Israel conducted airstrikes and artillery shelling in South Lebanon, particularly around the towns of Merkaba, Rab Thilaine, and Hula. This exchange of fire follows the assassination of Hamas Deputy Head Saleh Al-Arouri in Beirut, attributed to an Israeli strike, which Hezbollah vowed would not go unanswered. The Israeli army’s use of phosphorus bombs in its bombardment of Southern Lebanese towns has further heightened tensions. This series of events signals a dangerous development in the ongoing conflict between Israel and the axis of resistance, exacerbating regional instability and undermining the security and sovereignty of Lebanon.
  2. Nasrallah’s Bluster Masks Helplessness Post Al-Arouri Killing.  In a charged speech following Hamas leader Saleh Al-Arouri’s assassination, Hezbollah’s Hassan Nasrallah vehemently criticized Israel, projecting a guise of strength to conceal his actual impotence. He claimed the Palestinian issue was reenergized by Hamas’s ‘flood of Al-Aqsa’, accusing it of disrupting peace efforts, and portrayed Israel’s assassination as a desperate bid for victory. Asserting readiness for an unrestricted war, Nasrallah’s rhetoric appeared more as performative defiance than a reflection of Hezbollah’s true strategic position. His accusations against the U.S. and vows of retaliation were seen as efforts to rally support amidst growing challenges. Nasrallah’s impassioned yet seemingly overcompensatory speech reveals a leader’s attempt to mask vulnerabilities and maintain influence in a complex and tension-filled regional context.
  3. Hezbollah’s Mahdi Scouts: A Veil for Militant Indoctrination. The Mahdi Scouts, operating under Hezbollah in Lebanon, present a significant concern as they function as educational incubators for future militants. Established in 1985 and deeply rooted in Hezbollah’s strongholds, this organization strategically targets young individuals, embedding militant ideology from a tender age. Their activities, disguised as traditional scouting, are heavily laced with Hezbollah’s doctrines, including concepts of “holy jihad” and allegiance to the “guardian jurist.” This indoctrination extends to both male and female members, preparing them for roles within Hezbollah’s military and political wings. This systematic cultivation of young minds into a loyalist base not only strengthens Hezbollah’s influence within Lebanon but also poses a grave risk to regional stability. The global scrutiny from organizations like the World Organization of the Scout Movement highlights the alarming nature of such groups, exploiting youth education for extremist purposes.

4-1-2024

  1. Hezbollah Warned Hamas Leader of Israeli Tracking Prior to Assassination. Saleh al-Arouri, a senior Hamas leader, was assassinated in a strike in Beirut, Lebanon, following a warning from Hezbollah that Israel was tracking him. The attack’s method, whether by fighter jet or UAV, remains unclear. Lebanese newspaper Al-Akhbar reported radar detection of Israeli aircraft over Beirut before the strike, which targeted a building without intending to destroy it, aiming only at the Hamas officials. Al-Arouri’s assassination, which also killed six other Hamas operatives and wounded five, is seen as a significant Israeli message.
    11. Hezbollah Reports 4 Militants Killed, Israeli Sites Hit in Southern Lebanon. Hezbollah confirmed the deaths of four of its militants in Israeli raids targeting southern Lebanon, including a strike on a senior official’s home. Additionally, Hezbollah claimed successful attacks on the Israeli Al Jardah checkpoint. Concurrently, the Israeli army has been actively targeting Hamas anti-tank units in Gaza and conducting security operations in the West Bank. 

9-1-2024

  1. Drone Strikes and Casualties Escalate at Hezbollah Leader’s Funeral in Southern Lebanon. On January 9, 2024, during the funeral of Hezbollah leader Wissam Al-Tawil in his hometown of Khirbet Salam, southern Lebanon, Israel launched a drone strike targeting a car near the funeral site. This attack resulted in the death of one individual and injured three others. The identity of the deceased was under speculation, with some suspecting him to be a key figure in Hezbollah’s “Intervention Unit.” In retaliation, Hezbollah targeted the Israeli Northern Region Command’s headquarters in Safed (Dado base) with several attack drones. This action was stated as a response to the assassinations of both Al-Arouri and Al-Tawil. The Israeli army confirmed that its northern base was subject to an air attack, reporting no damage or casualties. They intercepted several drones crossing from Lebanon and targeted a drone launching squad in southern Lebanon.
  2. Hezbollah Envoy Urges Escalation in Baghdad. Sheikh Mohammad Hussein Al-Kawtharani, the Lebanese Hezbollah representative in Iraq, has made a covert visit to Baghdad, with the intention of escalating confrontations against the US military presence. During his visit, Al-Kawtharani met with leaders of pro-Iran militias and political figures within Iraq’s ruling Coordinating Framework alliance. His role as Hezbollah’s intermediary in Iraq has grown, particularly in mediating between various Iraqi forces and armed factions. According to a confidential source in the Iraqi parliament, Al-Kawtharani arrived in Baghdad on January 4 and conducted meetings with influential leaders affiliated with Tehran and other political leaders in Baghdad, including at a site associated with the Popular Mobilisation Forces in Baghdad’s Karrada area. This visit marks a potential shift towards heightened security tensions in the region.

10-1-2024

  1. Israel Claims Killing Hezbollah’s Drone Unit Leader, Hezbollah Denies. Israel announced the killing of the leader of Hezbollah’s drone unit in a drone strike in southern Lebanon, while Hezbollah denied the claim. Israel’s military spokesman, Daniel Hagari, stated that Ali Hussein Barghouti led dozens of drone attacks against Israel. However, Hezbollah’s media relations denied this assertion, stating that Barghouti had not been the target of any assassination attempt.
  2. Israeli Airstrikes Leave One Dead, One Injured in Southern Towns. The Lebanese National News Agency reported that Israeli aircraft conducted airstrikes on the outskirts of the towns of Naqoura and Jabal al-Lubnanah in southern Lebanon, resulting in one fatality and one injury. Hezbollah had previously announced its drone attack on an Israeli military base in Safed, escalating tensions in the region. The Israeli military confirmed airstrikes on Hezbollah military infrastructure in Kfar Kila and a drone facility in the village of Yaroun in southern Lebanon.
  3. Lebanese Army Discovers Israeli Fuel Lines Near Southern Towns. The Lebanese army, along with UNIFIL, uncovered three fuel hoses extending from Israel to Lebanese territory, used to pump flammable materials. The army dismantled them amid Israeli strikes, with no reported injuries. Additional similar hoses were found near Aita al-Shaab town, prompting the army to maintain border monitoring in coordination with UNIFIL.
  4. Hochstein Excludes Shebaa Farms from Agenda, New U.S. Ambassador to Lebanon Arriving. U.S. mediator Amos Hochstein will meet Deputy Speaker Elias Bou Saab in a European capital, with a focus limited to the Blue Line, excluding the Shebaa Farms issue. New U.S. Ambassador Lisa Johnson will arrive in Beirut, working as charge d’affaires until a new Lebanese president is elected, visiting political forces to mitigate tensions in the southern region.
  5. Berri Condemns Israeli Violations, Mikati Advocates Negotiation. Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri criticizes Israeli violations of U.N. Resolution 1701 and international rules during a meeting with U.N. officials. Caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati calls for an end to Israeli aggression and expresses Lebanon’s readiness for negotiations to achieve stability in southern Lebanon and the northern border of occupied Palestine.
  6. Lebanon Ready for Long-Term Border Stability Talks. Lebanese acting Prime Minister Najib Mikati stated that Lebanon is prepared to engage in negotiations for long-term stability along its southern border with Israel. He emphasized the country’s desire for permanent peace but expressed concerns over warnings of war from international envoys. Mikati did not specify the format of the negotiations.

11-1-2024

  1. US Intelligence Warns of Potential Hezbollah Attacks. American intelligence agencies have issued a warning about the possibility of Hezbollah conducting attacks within the United States, surpassing the capabilities of other groups, including ISIS, according to Politico magazine. Intelligence assessments indicate an increased risk of Hezbollah targeting Americans in the Middle East or even launching attacks within the United States.
  2. Lebanon Proposes Border Plan to UN Without Mentioning Hezbollah. Lebanon presents a UN-backed roadmap aiming to implement UN Security Council Resolution 1701, which ended the 2006 Israel-Lebanon war, addressing all 13 disputed border points and proposing border demarcation following the 1949 armistice agreement. However, the plan omits mention of Hezbollah, raising doubts about its feasibility amid ongoing clashes between Israel and the group. The roadmap calls for Israel to withdraw to agreed international borders and includes areas like the Shebaa Farms. Lebanon seeks UN support to strengthen its armed forces in southern Lebanon through UNIFIL. Recent skirmishes continue to erupt between Israeli forces and Hezbollah along the border.
  3. Germany Commits €15 Million for Lebanese Army Support Amid Border Tensions. German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock pledges €15 million to enhance the Lebanese military’s capacity to secure its border with Israel and mitigate the risk of regional escalation.

12-1-2024

  1. Cross-Border Fire Exchange Between Israeli Forces and Hezbollah. On Thursday, a significant exchange of fire occurred between Israeli forces and Hezbollah along the border areas. Israeli artillery launched attacks on multiple locations, including Tayr Harfa, Al-Jebeen, Tallet Hamams in the Sarda Plain, Marjayoun, the outskirts of Al-Dhahira, Aitaroun, Hula, and Al-Khiyam. In retaliation, Hezbollah released a statement claiming that its members had targeted a group of Israeli soldiers near the Metulla site with missile weaponry, reportedly achieving a direct hit. The incident marks a notable escalation in the ongoing tensions between the two groups.
  2. Hezbollah Denounces US Raids in Yemen, Linking Them to Israeli Actions. Hezbollah has strongly condemned the recent US and British raids in Yemen, which led to the deaths of five individuals. In a statement, Hezbollah asserted that these strikes demonstrate America’s complicity with Israel in the ongoing Gaza massacres and regional violence. This condemnation positions the raids within a broader context of regional conflict, highlighting the perceived interconnectedness of U.S. and Israeli military actions.
  3. U.S. Diplomatic Efforts Intensify in Lebanon to Foster Peaceful Resolutions. In a bid to defuse tensions between Lebanon and Israel, U.S. envoy Amos Hochstein has been actively engaged in diplomatic efforts during his visit to Lebanon. Hochstein voiced his concerns about the “loss of a diplomatic solution” and emphasized the urgency of finding peaceful resolutions. He met with key Lebanese leaders, including Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri, who showed openness to considering the proposed ideas. Concurrently, Lisa Johnson, the newly appointed U.S. Ambassador to Lebanon, arrived in the country. With her extensive regional experience and previous leadership roles in the U.S. State Department, Johnson acknowledged Lebanon’s current challenges. She underscored the importance of unity and collaboration in working towards a more stable and prosperous future for Lebanon.

15-1-2024

  1. Nasrallah Highlights Israel’s Setbacks in Gaza, Warns of Escalating Conflict in the Red Sea and Regional Fronts. Hassan Nasrallah, Secretary General of Hezbollah, marked the one-week anniversary of the killing of leader Wissam Tawil in an Israeli raid by emphasizing Israel’s failure to meet its objectives in the Gaza conflict. He underscored Israel’s inability to dismantle the Hamas movement, recover Israeli prisoners, displace the people of Gaza, or gain control of the Strip. Nasrallah praised the resilience and resistance of the Gaza populace in the face of ongoing Israeli bombardment. Addressing regional threats, Nasrallah remarked that American and Western endeavors to quell supportive fronts for Gaza have been unsuccessful. He affirmed Hezbollah’s and the Houthis in Yemen’s continued backing and support. He criticized American and British strikes on the Houthis in Yemen, asserting that these actions have jeopardized navigation in the Red Sea and warning that attacks on Israeli ships are likely to persist.
  2. New Armed Groups Emerge in Lebanon Post-October 7 Attack. A report by Al-Arabiya has shed light on the emergence of new armed factions in Lebanon following the October 7 attack. Notably, the “Fajr Forces,” linked to the Islamic Group, have claimed responsibility for four assaults on Israeli targets. Another group, the “Al-Ezz Brigades,” has acknowledged conducting an infiltration operation in the Shebaa Farms. This operation, executed under the cover of night and aided by foggy conditions, reportedly resulted in a confrontation with an Israeli patrol, leading to the deaths of four militants, as stated by Israeli media sources. The report suggests that the rise of these previously unknown groups could potentially serve Hezbollah’s interests. Researcher Makram Rabah commented on the situation, noting that any military action in southern Lebanon is likely to occur with Hezbollah’s consent, indicating the influential role the organization plays in the region’s security dynamics.

16&17-1-2024

  1. Escalation in Southern Lebanon: Israel and Hezbollah Engage in Intensified Military Operations.The southern region of Lebanon is witnessing a significant escalation in tensions between Israel and Hezbollah. Both parties are actively engaging in reciprocal rocket strikes and noteworthy ground breaches. These incidents have led to rocket launches from Lebanon towards Israel, accompanied by Israeli airstrikes targeting areas in southern Lebanon. The military operations include an operation conducted within Israel and another by Israeli special forces in Lebanon, leading to an escalation in military activities and clashes. Major General Uri Gordin, commander of the Israel Defense Forces’ Northern Command, has asserted that the Israeli military is more prepared than ever to address any potential escalation of violence along the Lebanese border. He emphasized the ongoing efforts to bolster military readiness and future assessments. AlHadath channel on YouTube featured a video titled “The Israeli Army Conducts Maneuver Simulating an Attack on Lebanon,” detailing an Israeli military drill that simulated an attack on Lebanon. The exercise involved deploying tens of thousands of soldiers along the northern border. Unfortunately, the video’s translation has been disabled by the publisher, preventing a detailed summary of its content. The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) have announced an expansion of their operations against Hezbollah in southern Lebanon. These operations include a variety of military actions, such as aerial and artillery attacks. They also encompass special missions inside Lebanon aimed at eliminating terrorist threats in the Eita al-Shaab region. In a continuing escalation, Israeli aircraft attacked Hezbollah’s anti-tank missile systems. This escalation follows Hezbollah’s attack on a significant Israeli air defense site and the headquarters of the Israeli military’s Northern Command.

18-1-2024

  1. Escalation of Israeli Aerial and Artillery Strikes on Southern Lebanon. Lebanese media reported that on January 17, 2024, Israeli forces intensified their military actions in southern Lebanon, marking the most significant aerial and artillery offensive since October. This surge in hostilities followed extensive Israeli military drills, simulating an attack on Lebanon and affirming readiness for immediate action. The offensive involved 14 airstrikes and 30 missile strikes targeting Hezbollah’s military infrastructure. Meanwhile, diplomatic efforts continued, with Western diplomats urging Hezbollah to moderate its cross-border attacks, aiming to prevent an escalation. The conflict has resulted in over 190 deaths in Lebanon, including Hezbollah fighters and civilians, and casualties in northern Israel. Recent incidents include missile launches from Lebanon towards Israeli sites in Shebaa Farms and retaliatory Israeli strikes in various Lebanese areas, indicating escalating tensions and the potential for further conflict along the border.
  2. Collapse of Justice: Beirut Port Explosion’s Prime Suspect Freed from Investigation. Lebanon’s highest court, on January 16, 2024, suspended the arrest warrant of Youssef Fenianos, a key suspect in the 2020 Beirut port explosion case. This development follows an arrest warrant issued in 2021 by Judge Tariq Bitar for Fenianos on charges of premeditated and negligent homicide. The suspension of the warrant has incited outrage among victims’ families and human rights groups, highlighting the systemic judicial challenges and lack of accountability in Lebanon.

19-1-2024

  1. Israel Conducts 12 Airstrikes in Southern Lebanon. Israel executed approximately 12 airstrikes on Friday in southern Lebanon. The strikes were concentrated between the towns of Ramieh and Aita al-Shaab, as reported by the Lebanese National News Agency. The Israeli air missiles reportedly led to considerable environmental damage within the targeted zones, notably resulting in the destruction of extensive tree-covered areas. On Friday, January 19, 2024, Israeli enemy soldiers deployed between the Al-Summaqa and Ramtha sites in Shebaa Farms, targeting them with a Burkan missile, resulting in a direct hit.

24-1-2024

  1. Tensions Escalate on Israel-Lebanon Border: Hezbollah’s Attack and France’s Efforts to Prevent Escalation. Hezbollah launched an attack on Israeli forces and positions and Lebanese border villages, targeting the Israeli Army’s Northern Command Center in response to Israeli assassinations and attacks in Lebanon and Syria. A large number of rockets were fired at the Mount Meron base in the second attack of this kind within 3 weeks. The attack caused minor damage to the Meron base. Hezbollah also attacked a group of Israeli soldiers at Cobra Hill. In response, the Israeli military spokesperson, Avichay Adraee, confirmed that projectiles crossed the border from Lebanon and some were successfully intercepted, and there were no serious injuries, but some infrastructure was damaged. The reciprocal shelling raises the problem of residents not returning to Israeli settlements in the north, and Israeli ministers held a special meeting to discuss the situation. The Israeli Defense Minister affirms Israel’s readiness to face any escalation in tensions with Hezbollah. The Israeli army bombed the outskirts of several Lebanese towns, and a drone bombed agricultural land in Wazzani. Houses in the border town of Bleda were bombed. On another note, France said it wants to avoid escalation on the border between Israel and Lebanon and asserts that no one wants war. The priority is the implementation of UN Resolution 1701, which calls on all armed parties to refrain from firing and withdraw from disputed areas. The Israeli military considers Hezbollah’s attacks a violation of this resolution, while the Lebanese Prime Minister says Lebanon is ready to implement international resolutions if Israel withdraws from the disputed territories. France’s efforts aim to prevent escalation and maintain stability in the region. The caretaker Prime Minister of Lebanon, Najib Mikati, praised Hezbollah’s restraint despite the rising death toll among its members due to clashes with Israel in southern Lebanon. The death toll due to Israeli attacks in southern Lebanon has risen to more than 200 people, most of them from Hezbollah. Israel has moved to a strategy of targeted killing in recent weeks after months of ongoing clashes with Hezbollah. Mikati confirmed that Hezbollah is exercising restraint to preserve Lebanon’s interest and avoid engagement in an open war. He referred to an acceptable proposal presented by the American mediator Hochstein, aimed at achieving relative stability on the border and repatriating displaced residents on both sides of the border after Hezbollah’s withdrawal eight kilometers from the border, with the postponement of the issue of demarcating land borders and occupied territories to a later time after stability returns to the border.

25-1-2024

  1. IDF Strikes Iran-Hezbollah Airport in Major Escalation. The Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) launched an attack on a crucial Hezbollah-Iran airstrip at Kilat Jaber, marking a significant escalation in the ongoing tensions. Defense Minister Yoav Gallant had previously revealed images of this joint Hezbollah-Iranian terror base, located just 20 kilometers from Israel’s border. Gallant emphasized that the airstrip displayed Iran’s flag, signifying its involvement in plotting against Israel. He warned that Iran, often using Hezbollah and other proxies, remains the most significant threat to Israel’s security. The IDF’s action aims to prevent the transformation of Syria into a Hezbollah stronghold armed with powerful rockets, underscoring the high stakes in the region.
  2. Hezbollah Launches Aerial Attacks on Israel as Israeli Escalation Continues in Lebanon. According to Hezbollah media, the group carried out an aerial attack using drones on sites affiliated with the air defense system and Iron Dome platforms near the settlement of ‘Kfar Blum’ in Israel, resulting in direct hits. They also targeted the Jal Al-Alam and radar sites in the Lebanese Shebaa Farms with missile weapons, causing direct damage. These attacks come amid ongoing Israeli shelling in southern regions and an Israeli airstrike targeting Mount Haneen. Israeli forces also conducted airstrikes in the Mount Jbour area in the Jezzine district. Israeli military performed sweeping operations around the Hadab site using medium and heavy machine guns. This situation is accompanied by intense Israeli fighter jet flights in the south.
  3. Israeli Military Strikes Hezbollah Targets in Southern Lebanon; Warns of Escalation. The Israeli army conducted airstrikes on Hezbollah military positions in Tyre and Al-Mughira, southern Lebanon. Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz, in a meeting with Italian counterpart Antonio Taiani, threatened Lebanon with severe military repercussions if Hezbollah does not withdraw from the northern Israeli border. Katz emphasized the necessity of Hezbollah’s withdrawal for Lebanon’s stability, citing potential severe impacts on Lebanese civilians. Concurrently, Katz acknowledged Italy’s role in combating Hamas’ financing in Europe and sought continued support in this endeavor. The ministers also discussed enhancing bilateral cooperation in energy, tourism, and humanitarian initiatives for the Palestinian population. 
  4. Increasing Challenges of Illegal Migration and Its Impact on Cyprus and Lebanon. The National Security Advisor and Director of Cypriot Intelligence, Tassos Tzionis, visited Lebanon to discuss the issue of Syrian refugees. The visit comes amidst concerns in Cyprus about a potential new wave of migration due to the conflict in southern Lebanon. Cyprus’ infrastructure is not capable of addressing this issue alone and relies on European assistance. More than 80% of migrants to Cyprus are fleeing in search of job opportunities, with approximately 25% of them aiming to reach other European countries and using Cyprus as a transit point.

26-1-2024

  1. Lebanese Officials Urge Government Adherence to UN Resolution 1701. Recent border incidents have intensified tensions between Hezbollah and Israel, with Hezbollah targeting key Israeli sites such as the Shebaa Farms radar facility, the German air defense system under the Kafr Blum agreement, and the Jal al-Alamah site. These provocations prompted a thorough investigation and escalated the situation. In retaliation, Israel launched an airstrike near South Naqusa, intercepting a missile from Lebanon. Amidst this turmoil, the United Nations’ Humanitarian Coordinator, Imran Riza, is actively aiding those affected in southern Lebanon. Despite the unrest, local displaced persons are opting to stay in the region. Critically, Samir Geagea, has openly denounced Hezbollah’s actions. He is pressuring the Lebanese government to take charge in the south and comply with UN Security Council Resolution 1701, which mandates a halt to hostilities north of the Litani River.

 

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