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Lebanon in March 2024

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6-3-2024

  1. Hezbollah Claims 1,194 Attacks on Israel During the Last 150 Days On March 5, the IDF launched operations targeting five locations in Lebanon, including Zebkin (Zur district), Ayta ash Shab, Majdal Zoun, Houla, and Kafra, where an attack led to the ignition of fuel oil. Concurrently, Israeli warplanes engaged in low-altitude flights over southern Lebanon, producing supersonic booms. Today, March 6, the IDF conducted two strikes on south Lebanon, specifically Yaroun, Yater, and Chebaa. No casualty tally has been reported yet. In retaliation, Hezbollah launched over 50 rockets from southern Lebanon towards Galilee, which were intercepted. Additionally, Hezbollah claimed an attack on Kfar Blum with dozens of Katyushas, citing it as a response to an IDF strike on a civilian residence in Kfar Khula, where three family members were killed.Today, Hezbollah media Al Manar published, claiming that 150 days into the Gaza conflict, the Islamic Resistance in Lebanon has conducted 1,194 operations against Israeli targets. This includes 1,187 alleged strikes on sites, settlements, and military positions, with specific locations such as Prophet Joshua, Rmeish Gate, and Shebaa Gate among those highlighted. The report boasts, showing off an extensive operation tally that encompasses 107 settlements, 841 military sites, 74 back positions, and 134 border points, with notable achievements including the downing of two Hormuz 450 drones. The depth of these operations, as claimed, reached 23 km inside Israel, underscoring the resistance’s ongoing commitment to the Gaza struggle, according to Hezbollah’s narrative.

13-3-2024

  1. Israel Expands Airstrikes in Southern Lebanon and the Bekaa  Israel has extended its strikes against Hizballah leaders deeper into Southern Lebanon, targeting areas over 12 kilometers from the border, mirroring Hizballah’s range of attack on Israeli military headquarters in Safed. On Wednesday morning, Israel killed senior Hamas leader Hadi Mustafa as he traveled by car in southern Lebanon. The strike came a day after the IDF revealed that it had hit approximately 4,500 Hizballah targets in Lebanon and Syria over the last five months, killing more than 300 Hizballah fighters and injuring over 750. Israeli strikes recently have begun to stretch much further north to Baalbek in the Northern Bekaa Valley, widening the confrontation zone far beyond the southern Lebanese border.
  2. Lebanon Lodges UN Security Council Complaint Against Israel for Baalbek Attacks Lebanese Foreign Minister Abdallah Bou Habib has instructed Lebanon’s UN mission to file a complaint with the UN Security Council following Israeli airstrikes on 11 and 12 March 2024 in Baalbek. Bou Habib and the Foreign Ministry claimed the strikes in regions far from Lebanon’s southern border indicated Israel’s intent to widen the conflict and potentially trigger a regional war. Lebanon urged international pressure on Israel to stop airstrikes in Lebanon.
  3. Nasrallah Meets Hamas Negotiator, Supports Hamas Demand for Permanent Ceasefire Hizballah leader Hassan Nasrallah hosted senior Hamas official Khalil al-Hayya, Deputy Hamas Chief in Gaza, to coordinate positions on the ongoing Gaza cease-fire negotiations. Nasrallah supported Hamas’s insistence on a complete, permanent ceasefire as a precondition for releasing hostages. Meanwhile, an anonymous Hamas official revealed ongoing coordination with Hezbollah regarding their conflict with Israel, but also indicated the possibility of a non-declared truce during Ramadan. The Hamas official blamed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for the lack of a breakthrough in ceasefire negotiations. Conversely, Israel accuses Hamas of not genuinely seeking a ceasefire and aiming instead to raise Middle East tensions during the Muslim holy month.

14-3-2024

  1. French Intelligence Chief Makes Surprise Visit to Beirut for Talks Nicolas Lerner, the head of France’s external intelligence, made a surprise visit to Lebanon to discuss security cooperation and address concerns over regional stability and terrorism resurgence, especially the simmering war between Israel and Hizballah on Lebanon’s southern border. This visit marks Lerner’s first trip to Lebanon since his appointment in December. His meetings with Lebanese security officials aimed to reinforce France’s commitment to Lebanon’s security, explore ways to achieve a ceasefire in Gaza, and manage the implications of the Syrian refugee crisis. 
  2. Lebanon’s Foreign Minister Says International Community is Focusing on Hizballah Withdrawal from Border Zone Lebanon’s Foreign Minister, Abdallah Bou Habib, revealed that recent international envoys to Beirut emphasized the withdrawal of Hezbollah from the border area, not the implementation of international resolutions. These talks have been affected by Hezbollah’s insistence that the Gaza conflict stop before there is serious discussion of Lebanese issues, including the constitutional dilemma of presidential vacancy. Lebanon has lodged a complaint with the UN Security Council over Israel’s airstrikes inside Lebanon, and Lebanese leaders hope to use upcoming UN meetings as a platform for airing Beirut’s grievances against Israel and for urging international support for resolving the Lebanese presidential impasse.
  3. Nasrallah Encourages US Protestors to Keep Pressuring Biden In his speech at the Ramadan Quranic evening in Beirut, Hezbollah’s Secretary-General, Hassan Nasrallah, said the “resistance” will continue to defy the challenges imposed by the presence of “great devils” in occupied Palestine, regardless of how long the conflict lasts. Nasrallah said that US President Joe Biden only cares about the upcoming US presidential election, and the Hizballah leader urged activists in the US to continue their protests against Biden’s support for Israel. Nasrallah asserted that such domestic US pressure is the best hope for compelling Biden to force Israel to stop its operations in Gaza.

19-3-2024

  1. UNSG Guterres Says Hizballah’s Arms in Southern Lebanon are “Unauthorized” The UN Security Council is set to discuss a report prepared by Secretary-General António Guterres regarding Resolution 1701 during escalating tensions across the “Blue Line” in Southern Lebanon. Guterres expressed “grave concern” over continuous hostilities and called for a political process to address the root causes of conflict, emphasizing the need for full implementation of Resolution 1701. He highlighted serious concerns about unauthorized arms possession in areas south of the Litani River, specifically naming Hizballah and other non-state armed groups. Guterres also condemned Israeli violations of Lebanese sovereignty, urging an end to overflights above Lebanese territory.

20-3-2024

  1. Hizballah Security Chief Wafiq Safa Makes Unprecedented Trip to the UAE, Brokered by Assad New information reveals that Hezbollah’s powerful chief security officer Wafiq Safa traveled to the UAE with two companions aboard a private plane. The visit aims to negotiate the release of Lebanese detainees before Ramadan’s end.  The initiative was reportedly brokered by Syrian dictator Bashar Al Assad, who facilitated talks between Hezbollah and the UAE regarding the release of Lebanese prisoners detained in the UAE over a decade ago for ties to Hizballah and Iran. The initiative also marked a significant step in the warming ties between Damascus and Abu Dhabi since March 2022.
  2. IDF Says Hezbollah Uses Ambulances for Military Purposes The Israeli Defense Forces’ Arabic spokesperson, Avichay Adraee, disclosed that Hezbollah and the Amal Movement have been exploiting ambulances to move terrorists and arms in southern Lebanon. These ambulances are linked to the Islamic Health Organization, which has ties to Hezbollah and openly supports its militants’ activities against Israel. The Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center reports that over 20 members from this healthcare organization have died fighting for Hezbollah, including several in the recent conflicts that erupted in October.
  3. Economic Crisis and Lack of Political Settlement Hinder Lebanese Army Deployment in the South Lebanon’s ongoing economic crisis and the absence of a comprehensive political settlement are major obstacles to deploying an additional 10,000 Lebanese troops south of the Litani River as envisioned in new proposals by U.S. and European negotiators who are seeking ways to defuse the Israel-Hizballah border conflict. Despite international efforts, mutual bombardments continue, with further army deployment contingent on a broader political decision for regional stability. The Lebanese army is experiencing severe financial constraints in Lebanon’s broader economic crisis, and this factor limits the LAF’s capability for expanded deployment not just in the south, but any region of Lebanon.

21-3-2024

  1. IDF Says Hizballah is Drawing Lebanon into Dangerous Escalation IDF spokesperson Daniel Hagari expressed concerns over Hezbollah leading Lebanon towards a severe escalation, but the windows is still open for a diplomatic solution to the border crisis. Meanwhile, the IDF confirmed 17 Israeli soldiers and civilians have died in Hizballah-initiatied attacks in northern Israel since October 8, 2023. The IDF statement coincided with new proposals by UN diplomats on Tuesday to expand the buffer zone in southern Lebanon that is currently monitored by UNIFIL.
  2. Hezbollah Deploys Armed Troops in Beirut, Raising Alarms Arab media report significant Hizballah activity within Beirut’s Dahieh district, with an unusually large armed Hizballah contingent deploying into the area. Hizballah has been intensifying its military activity during its monthslong confrontation with Israel on Lebanon’s southern border. The IDF recently accused Hizballah of using ambulances for transporting militants and materials, further exposing the organization’s integration of military activities within civilian contexts.

25-3-2024

  1. Gallant Reportedly Will Seek US Approval for Israeli Escalation with Hizballah Following a violent night including an Israeli airstrike on a building in Baalbek, tensions resumed on Sunday with an Israeli airstrike killing three individuals in the southern town of Adaisseh and another in Sawiri. Hezbollah responded by shelling an Israeli military site, with further artillery fire on the towns of Tyre Harfa and Aita al-Shaab. Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, known for his hardline stance, traveled to Washington seeking US support to expand the conflict against Hezbollah, emphasizing the aim to push Hezbollah forces away from the northern border area.
  2. New Parliamentary Initiative to Break Presidential Deadlock in Lebanon Independent MP Dr. Ghassan Skaff has launched a new initiative aimed at breaking the presidential deadlock in Lebanon, submitted to Maronite Patriarch Bechara Boutros al-Rahi. This initiative, building on previous efforts with some revisions, aims to gather a consensus on presidential candidates through discussions with political and spiritual leaders. It suggests submitting a list of acceptable candidates for presidency, followed by consultations to narrow the choices down. Skaff’s approach seeks a president agreed upon by all parties, avoiding candidates from specific political factions. Meetings with key political and religious figures are planned to discuss the proposal further.

26-3-2024

  1. Mikati Calls for Pressure on Israel to Cease Attacks on Lebanon Following UN Security Council Resolution Lebanese caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati urges nations to pressure Israel to halt its assaults on Lebanon in light of the UN Security Council’s resolution for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza. Mikati welcomes the resolution as a crucial step towards ending Israeli aggression and emphasizes the importance of Israel adhering to it for providing relief to Palestinians. He advocates for a political process to resolve the ongoing conflict, granting Palestinians their rights based on international resolutions and the two-state solution.
  2. Lebanon Submits Complaint to UN About Israeli Overflights of Lebanon Lebanon submitted a complaint to the UN Security Council against Israel, attributing “international responsibility” to Tel Aviv for any incidents resulting from actions contrary to international aviation regulations, following ongoing interference affecting Beirut-Rafic Hariri International Airport’s navigation systems. The Lebanese Foreign Ministry’s complaint, backed by technical data, aims to document these violations and calls for UN Security Council action if Israeli practices threaten international peace and security.

27-3-2024

  1. Israel Strikes Hezbollah Stronghold in Northeast Lebanon for the First Time Israeli airstrikes hit the Hermel area, a Hezbollah stronghold in northeast Lebanon, marking the deepest attack into Lebanese territory in the ongoing conflict. The strikes, which were in retaliation for earlier attacks on Israeli surveillance units, targeted a military complex used by Hezbollah’s air unit. Additional targets included a military building and infrastructure near Aita al-Shaab and Kfarkila, as well as a reconnaissance site in Maroun al-Ras.
  2. Lebanese Sunni Militant Group Joins Hezbollah in Battle Against Israel Sheikh Mohammed Takkoush, leader of the Lebanese Sunni group al-Jamaa al-Islamiya, announced their cooperation with Hezbollah to combat Israel, motivated by the defense of Lebanese territories and solidarity with Gaza. This rare Sunni-Shiite collaboration highlights an increased coordination between Hamas and Hezbollah during the Israel-Hamas conflict. 

28-3-2024

  1. Senior Senator Urges Biden to Tighten Isolation of Syria’s Assad Regime Jim Risch, the senior Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, called for increased isolation of Syria’s Assad regime and the passage of the Anti-Normalization with Assad Act. This comes after the U.S. Treasury imposed sanctions on individuals and entities supporting the Syrian regime through drug trafficking and financial operations under the Caesar Act. The sanctions targeted 11 individuals and companies, including those involved in a $100 million Captagon and cannabis shipment intercepted by Greek authorities in 2018. Risch has accused Assad of transforming Syria into a “narco-state.”
  2. Syrian Regime’s Central Bank Tries to Downplay Concerns as Inflation Hits 800 Percent The Syrian Central Bank downplayed inflation fears, stating the situation is not alarming. It confirms there’s no current need for currency reform such as introducing higher denominations or removing zeros. Despite these reassurances, the Ministry of Finance has scheduled its second Treasury bonds auction for 2024 on April 22, aiming to issue bonds worth 150 billion Syrian pounds over a four-year term. This move comes as the Syrian regime is under scrutiny for exacerbating the Syrian pound’s decline and skyrocketing inflation rates, now estimated at 800%.

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