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Lebanon in October 2023

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October 3, 2023

  1. Total Energies, Eni, and Qatar Energy Bid for Lebanese Exploration Blocks (Al Maydeen). A consortium including Total Energies, Eni, and Qatar Energy has applied to bid on two blocks in Lebanon’s maritime waters in the second licensing round. These companies already hold petroleum rights in the fourth and ninth blocks, with Qatar having a 30% share and the European firms sharing the remaining 70% equally.
  2. Lebanese Internal Security Forces Face Morale Drop and Desertions (Sharq Awsat). Lebanon’s Internal Security Forces (ISF) are grappling with numerous challenges, including heightened security risks, an economic downturn, and decreased morale among personnel due to salary cuts and lost benefits. Brigadier General Rabih Mujaes’ telegram urging deserters to return was retracted due to legal issues. The ISF, with 26,000 members, has seen salaries drop from $1,000-$6,000 to $120-$800. High retirement rates and a four-year recruitment freeze have worsened its human resource crisis.

 

October 4, 2023

  1. Escalating Clampdown on Syrian Refugees in Lebanon Sparks Discrimination Concerns (Al Hurra). Lebanon’s Foreign Minister, Abdullah Bouhabib, highlights international resistance to Syrian refugee repatriation. Criticizing Western nations for unfulfilled funding commitments to host countries, Bouhabib reveals Lebanon’s pursuit of voluntary returns citing the economic turmoil. However, concerns about refugees’ safety in Syria persist among international organizations. Lebanon’s aggressive measures against refugees, including curfews and rental restrictions, raise systemic racism concerns. Minister of Interior and Municipalities, Bassam Mawlawi, considers the Syrian exodus an “existential threat,” while General Joseph Aoun discusses confronting refugees. Municipalities, including Beirut and Dekwaneh, enforce these measures, and Ghobeiry municipality intensifies inspections, prompting shop closures. Hezbollah supports refugee return, and over 40% of Lebanon’s population is now Syrian, driven by births, marriages, and polygamy, particularly in Tripoli and Baalbek.
  2. Lebanese Political Leader Geagea Addresses Presidential Elections, Refugee Issue, and Opposition Dynamics (Beirut 24). In his comments, Geagea clarified that Qatar supports a third presidential option and criticized Gebran Bassil’s opposition to the army commander’s candidacy, suggesting it’s driven by a desire for power. Geagea indicated that he doesn’t have a veto over the army commander but will express his opinion when needed, as the decision requires careful study. He downplayed the significance of thwarting President Berri’s initiative, stating the opposition isn’t obsessed with Gebran Bassil, and doubts an understanding with Hezbollah to elect Suleiman Franjieh will be reached. Geagea also defended the Lebanese Forces’ call for Syrian refugees’ return, citing the changing circumstances and the presence of over 1.7 million refugees in Lebanon.

 

October 5, 2023

  1. Lebanese Politician Almost Gets Booted for Breakfast (Nabd). The Lebanese Forces Party nearly expelled former MP Chant Janjanian for attending a breakfast hosted by former MP Cesar Maalouf in honor of Gebran Bassil. Contrary to media reports, Janjanian will face a Council of Elders before any expulsion decision. His wife, head of the women’s office in Zahle, was also rumored to be expelled but did not attend the breakfast. Janjanian defended his actions, emphasizing his long-standing commitment to his principles and party.
  2. Lebanon Issues Warning on Kidnapping Scams Targeting Syrians (Al Hurra). The General Directorate of the Internal Security Forces in Lebanon has warned of kidnapping operations targeting Syrians residing in the country. The kidnappers use fake social media accounts, particularly on TikTok, to lure victims with promises of secure travel to Europe. Once lured to border areas, victims are kidnapped, taken across the border into Syria, and tortured for ransom. Despite previous arrests, such kidnappings have resurfaced recently. The Lebanese authorities urge caution and reporting of suspicious activities.

 

October 6, 2023

  1. Lebanese Foreign Minister Warns of Existential Threat from Syrian Exodus; Calls for Border Demarcation with Israel . In an exclusive interview with Al-Hurra TV, Lebanese Foreign Minister Abdullah Bouhabib emphasized the existential threat posed by the large influx of Syrian refugees into Lebanon. He also discussed the urgency of demarcating land borders with Israel and mentioned ongoing American mediation in the matter. Bouhabib warned that the situation could lead to further alienation between Lebanon, Western countries, and potentially Europe, which is already grappling with a refugee crisis (Al Hurra). 

 

October 10, 2023

  1. Hizballah Official Signals ‘Al-Aqsa Flood’ as Prelude to Larger Anti-Israel Operation. Hashem Salhab, a Hizbullah official, stated that “Operation Al-Aqsa Flood” is merely a precursor to a more extensive operation aimed at eliminating Israel. In his speech, Salhab warned that the U.S. and Arab nations normalizing relations with Israel would not be able to assist in averting the impending conflict (MEMRI).

 

October 11, 2023

  1. Broad Consensus in Lebanon Against Hezbollah’s Involvement in War. Hizballah is under pressure to stay neutral during the regional tensions and border clashes with Israel. Calls for neutrality come from political and public figures due to Lebanon’s fragile state and inability to engage in large-scale conflict. Social media reflects concerns about being dragged into war and worsening the country’s existing challenges (Janoubia).

 

October 12, 2023

  1. Israel-Lebanon Situation Report: View from the Lebanese Border. Reporters on the Lebanese side of the Israel-Lebanon border describe a tense and confusing atmosphere in the Galilee region. Initial reports of drones or gliders breaching Israeli airspace led to heightened security alerts, but these claims remain unverified. Sirens were sounded in various locations, including areas far from the border. Official sources confirmed a shell landing in Metulla near the Lebanese border and clarified that sirens in Haifa were unrelated, originating from an event in Gaza. The Israeli security system appears to be in a state of disarray, with conflicting reports and no clear official statements (Watch ACLS’s English Subtitled Video of Al Jazeera).
  2. Hizballah to U.S. Carrier: “You Don’t Scare Us!. Hezbollah announced that the U.S. sending an aircraft carrier to the region won’t intimidate them or other resistance groups. The group criticized the U.S. for its open support of “Zionist aggression” and called on the international community to condemn American intervention. They stated that the move reveals the weakness of the “Zionist military machine” and emphasized that resistance factions are ready for confrontation (Al Nahar). 

 

October 13, 2023

  1. Hamas Calls for General Mobilization in Lebanon and Camps in Support of Gaza. Hamas has urged the Palestinian people in Lebanese camps, cities, and villages to participate in a general mobilization on the upcoming Friday under the banner “Al-Aqsa Storm Friday.” The call aims to show solidarity with the Palestinian people and their resistance and gather support to confront the Israeli army (Annahar).

 

October 17, 2023

  1. Israel Shells Southern Lebanon in Response to Hezbollah Attack on Border Posts. The Israel-Lebanon border witnessed heightened tensions as Hezbollah reportedly attacked Israeli military posts. Israel responded with artillery shells targeting the outskirts of the Lebanese border town of Dhayra. Hezbollah claimed successful hits with “appropriate weapons,” but reports indicate it may have started with gunfire at Israeli surveillance cameras. The situation signals an alarming escalation in the region (Nahar Net).
  2. Lebanon Rejects War as Tensions Rise Between Hezbollah and Israel. The hashtag “Lebanon Does Not Want War” trended on Lebanese social media for three days amid growing concerns over Hezbollah’s actions and potential conflict with Israel. Prime Minister Najib Mikati expressed worry as tensions rose along the southern Lebanese border. Lebanese citizens fear being drawn into another war, given the nation’s economic fragility stemming from its financial crisis (Albawabh News).

 

October 18, 2023

  1. Hezbollah Targets Israeli Tank Amid Rising Tensions. Hezbollah claims to have hit an Israeli Merkava tank with an anti-tank missile, causing casualties. The attack targeted an Israeli army position near the Lebanese village of Aita al-Shaab. This follows the death of five Hezbollah fighters in south Lebanon, escalating border tensions with Israel. Hezbollah also called for a “day of rage” to protest an Israeli strike on a Gaza hospital, which resulted in at least 500 deaths. The Israeli army is currently verifying the missile attack reports (Nahar Net).
  2. Hezbollah Declares Solidarity with Gaza Following Hospital Bombing. The head of Hezbollah’s Executive Council, Hashem Safi al-Din, expressed strong condemnation and “extreme anger” at the Israeli bombing of the Baptist Hospital in Gaza, which resulted in nearly 500 deaths. Speaking at a solidarity stand in Beirut, Safi al-Din accused the United States and the West of being complicit in the “genocidal massacres” in Gaza. He emphasized that the bombing was a premeditated act, violating international laws that protect hospitals from being targeted. The statement comes as widespread demonstrations sweep across Lebanon and other Arab countries in support of Palestine (Janoubia).

 

October 19, 2023

  1. Escalating Clashes in Southern Lebanon Prompt International Evacuations. Tensions rise as Israel and Hezbollah exchange fire near the Lebanese-Israeli border. Both sides report casualties and infrastructure damage. Amid growing international concern, several countries, including the U.S., urge their citizens to leave Lebanon. Israel also begins evacuating northern border towns. The clashes are the most severe in years, intensifying since the Hamas attack on Israel earlier this month (Al Hurra).
  2. U.S. Privately Urges Israel to Avoid War with Hezbollah Amid Gaza Crisis. The Biden administration has privately advised Israel against initiating a military campaign against Hezbollah to prevent the ongoing Gaza conflict from spreading. Washington expressed concern and urged caution in responding to Hezbollah’s actions, stating that the U.S. would protect its interests if necessary (Times of Israel). 

 

October 20, 2023

  1. U.S. Delegation Discusses Regional Challenges with Lebanese Army Commander. Lebanese Army Commander General Joseph Aoun met with a delegation of assistants to U.S. Congress members and U.S. defense attache Colonel Aimee Mowry. The meeting focused on Lebanon’s general situation, challenges facing the military institution, and developments on the southern border (Nahar Net). 

 

October 24, 2023

  1. Israeli Airstrikes Hit Hezbollah Cells in Southern Lebanon. Israeli forces targeted two Hezbollah cells in southern Lebanon, preventing an attack on Israel. Hezbollah confirmed one fighter’s death, while the Israeli military reported striking the cells near Aitaroun and in the Shebaa Farms area. Later, Israel conducted additional strikes against Hezbollah targets. No injuries or damage have been reported (New Arab).
  2. Lebanese Socialist Party Prepares Emergency Plan for Possible Conflict. The Lebanese Socialist Party, led by Timur Jumblatt, is among the first political parties in Lebanon to respond to the government’s emergency plan during escalating tensions in the region. They aim to maintain stability and are holding meetings to prepare preventive measures, especially if Israel attacks Lebanon. The party is also coordinating with other political groups and religious authorities. They emphasize the need to set aside political and sectarian disputes, prioritizing Lebanon’s safety, as uncertainty in the region grows. Meetings with the opposition are also anticipated as preparations for potential conflict expand beyond political parties to encompass various sectors in the country (lebanon24).
  3. Lebanese Parties Prepare for Potential Conflict During Gaza Tensions. Lebanese political parties, led by the Progressive Socialist Party, are coordinating emergency plans in anticipation of potential conflict due to the ongoing events in Gaza. The parties are focusing on maintaining stability and preparing for any emergencies. While the exact nature of future developments is uncertain, the aim is to be prepared for any scenario, including the possibility of Israeli aggression against Lebanon (Lebanon 24).

 

October 25, 2023

  1. Leader of Hezbollah Meets with Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad Leaders. The leader of Hezbollah, Hassan Nasrallah, held a meeting with senior figures from Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad in Beirut. The meeting discussed the next steps that the three groups, along with other Iran-backed militants, should take during this “sensitive stage” in the Middle East. Furthermore, reports suggest that an Israeli airstrike targeted Aleppo’s international airport in Syria, rendering it inoperable (AP).
  2. Deadly Exchange of Fire: Hezbollah Fighters Killed in 24 Hours. In the past 24 hours, 11 Hezbollah fighters have been killed as Israel and Hezbollah engage in cross-border clashes. Israel targeted Hezbollah positions after being fired upon by the militant group. Israel conducted retaliatory bombings, resulting in the deaths of over 5,000 Palestinians, including civilians. French President Macron has called for restraint and warned against expanding the war into Lebanon and the wider Arab world (Nahar Net).
  3. Hezbollah Suffers Losses, Bassil Engages in Diplomacy During Gaza Conflict. Hezbollah has lost nearly 40 fighters during operations in the southern Israeli-occupied region. While Israel remains silent about its losses, Hezbollah’s casualties are taking a toll. Meanwhile, Lebanese politician Gebran Bassil is engaging in diplomacy, attempting to bolster his image and propose a presidential deal (Janoubia).

 

October 26, 2023

  1. Hezbollah’s Messages: Path to Jerusalem, Tripartite Meeting, and Air Defense. Hezbollah conveyed several messages to Israel, signaling its determination to achieve objectives without resorting to open warfare. These messages included political warnings and field actions, such as the launch of an anti-aircraft missile, challenging Israeli aerial superiority (Lebanon24).
  2. Israeli Army Strikes Lebanon After Drone Attack. The Israeli military conducted an airstrike in Lebanon targeting a site from which a surface-to-air missile was launched at an Israeli drone. The Israeli Defense Forces’ air defense system intercepted the missile, and in response, an Israeli aircraft struck the missile launch site in Lebanon. Ongoing tensions and daily skirmishes between Israel and Hezbollah have escalated since Hamas launched an unprecedented attack in October. The situation raises concerns about wider regional instability and potential conflict in southern Lebanon (Al-Nahar).
  3. International Calls for Lebanon to Deploy Army and Withdraw Hezbollah. International contacts were made with Lebanese authorities following the caretaker Prime Minister’s commitment to U.N. Security Council Resolution 1701. The international community urged Lebanon to honor this resolution, emphasizing the need for the army and UNIFIL forces to control the southern border and the withdrawal of Hezbollah and Palestinians. Failure to do so could risk conflict, and Lebanon may receive international-American guarantees to prevent war if these steps are taken (Nahar Net).

 

October 27, 2023

  1. Smoke Lingers After Nightly Attacks on Southern Towns by Israeli Forces. Following a series of attacks by Israeli forces on various southern towns, smoke continues to rise from the affected areas. The Israeli army used light shells and incendiary phosphorus bombs, exploiting high temperatures and strong winds to ignite fires. Fire brigades have since extinguished the flames. The situation remains tense, with reconnaissance flights disturbing the calm in the eastern sector (Al Nahar).
  2. Iranian Warning: Lebanese Fighters “On Trigger” as Israel Expands in Gaza. Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian stated that Lebanese and Palestinian fighters loyal to Tehran are “ready to act” in anticipation of a possible Israeli ground operation in Gaza. Speaking from the UN, Abdollahian emphasized that their actions would be “more powerful and deeper” than before and would be decided independently, not at Iran’s request. He warned that if the situation in Gaza and the West Bank continues to deteriorate, “anything will be possible (Janoubia).

 

October 31, 2023

  1. Lebanon’s PM Warns of Israeli War if Aggression Persists. Lebanon’s caretaker prime minister has accused Israel of starting a potential war if border violations and aggressions continue. He called for an end to Israel’s provocative actions and emphasized that the people of Lebanon do not want war. If Lebanon’s sovereignty continues to be violated, the Israeli regime will be held accountable. Tensions on the Lebanon-Israel border have escalated since the Hamas-Israel confrontation began, resulting in casualties in Gaza (Islam Times).

 

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