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Violence Escalates Between Israel, Lebanon’s Hezbollah

Illustrative: Smoke rises on the Lebanese side of the border between Israel and Lebanon after an Israeli airstrike, as seen from northern Israel, November 18, 2023. Photo: REUTERS/Evelyn Hockstein

Violence escalated at Lebanon’s border with Israel on Sunday as the terrorist group Hezbollah launched explosive drones and powerful missiles at Israeli positions and Israeli air strikes rocked several towns and villages in south Lebanon.

Israel and the Iran-backed Hezbollah have been trading fire since the war in Gaza erupted two months ago, in their worst hostilities since a 2006 conflict. The violence has largely been contained to the border area.

Israeli attacks in south Lebanon included air strikes on the town of Aitaroun which destroyed and damaged numerous houses, Lebanon’s National News Agency said. It did not say if there were any casualties.

The Israeli army did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Senior Hezbollah politician Hassan Fadlallah, in a statement sent to Reuters, said Israeli air strikes were a “new escalation” to which the group was responding with new types of attacks, be it “in the nature of the weapons (used) or the targeted sites.”

The Israeli army earlier said “suspicious aerial targets” had crossed from Lebanon and two were intercepted. Two Israeli soldiers were moderately wounded and a number of others lightly injured from shrapnel and smoke inhalation, it said.

Israeli fighter jets carried out “an extensive series of strikes on Hezbollah terror targets in Lebanese territory,” it said. Sirens sounded in Israel at several locations at the border.

In Beirut, residents saw what appeared to be two warplanes streaking across a clear blue sky, leaving vapor trails behind them.

Hezbollah statements say its attacks aim to support Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.

Senior Hezbollah official Sheikh Ali Damoush said in a speech on Sunday the group would continue in its effort to “exhaust the enemy, and will not stop unless the aggression against Gaza and Lebanon stops.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has warned that Beirut would be turned “into Gaza” if Hezbollah started an all-out war.

In one of several attacks announced by Hezbollah on Sunday, the group said it had launched the explosive drones at an Israeli command position near Ya’ara. In another, Hezbollah said it had fired Burkan (Volcano) missiles, which carry hundreds of kilograms of explosives.

Israeli air strikes were also reported on the outskirts of the Lebanese village of Yaroun, not far from the location of another of the Israeli positions Hezbollah said it had targeted on Sunday.

Those air strikes broke windows of houses, shops and a school in the nearby village of Rmeich, Toni Elias, a priest in Rmeich, told Reuters by phone.

Violence at the border has killed more than 120 people in Lebanon, including 85 Hezbollah fighters and 16 civilians. In Israel, the hostilities have killed seven soldiers and four civilians.

The post Violence Escalates Between Israel, Lebanon’s Hezbollah first appeared on Algemeiner.com.

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‘Exceptional Opportunity’: Blinken Says ‘Virtually Every Arab Country’ Wants to Normalize Ties with Israel

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken looks on, as U.S. President Joe Biden (not pictured) speaks about the conflict in Israel, after Hamas launched its biggest attack in decades, while making a statement about the crisis, at the White House in Washington, U.S. October 7, 2023. Photo: REUTERS/Elizabeth Frantz/File Photo

i24 NewsU.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said at the Munich Security Conference on Saturday that the present moment represented an “exceptional opportunity” for Israel to normalize ties with Arab states.

“Virtually every Arab country now wants to integrate Israel into the region to normalize relations,” the official told the conference, according to Reuters.

Blinken also spoke of an “urgent” imperative to “proceed with a Palestinian state that would also ensure the security of Israel.” He said there was a regional effort underway to revive the Palestinian Authority, and turn it into a viable institution.

The post ‘Exceptional Opportunity’: Blinken Says ‘Virtually Every Arab Country’ Wants to Normalize Ties with Israel first appeared on Algemeiner.com.

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Hamas Suspends Hostage Deal Talks and Demands Aid, Arab Media Reports

Palestinian group Hamas’ top leader, Ismail Haniyeh, gestures as he speaks during his visit at Ain el Hilweh Palestinian refugee camp in Sidon, Lebanon September 6, 2020. REUTERS/Aziz Taher

i24 NewsIn a recent statement published on Telegram, Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh pointed fingers at Israel for the lack of advancement in reaching a ceasefire agreement in Gaza, the terrorist group disclosed on Saturday.

Yet, Arab media later reported that Hamas suspended all negotiation and ceasefire talks due to a demand for aid.

Haniyeh emphasized Hamas’s consistent efforts to engage positively with mediators to halt aggression against the Palestinian people, end the unjust siege, and facilitate aid delivery, shelter, and reconstruction efforts.

Despite Hamas’s purported flexibility in negotiations, Haniyeh lamented Israel’s perceived maneuvers and delays, which, he claimed, exacerbate the plight of the Palestinian population.

Notably, one of the sticking points in the negotiations revolves around the release of prisoners held by Hamas, with the organization highlighting its previous concession of releasing hostages in exchange for security prisoners held in Israel for terrorism offenses.

However, Haniyeh asserted that Hamas remains steadfast in its demands for a comprehensive ceasefire, including the cessation of aggression, withdrawal of Israeli forces from Gaza, lifting of the siege, provision of safe shelter for displaced individuals, particularly in the northern Gaza Strip, and commitment to reconstruction efforts.

The Hamas leader emphasized the importance of addressing the humanitarian crisis in Gaza and ensuring the release of older prisoners and those serving long sentences as part of any potential prisoner exchange agreement.

The post Hamas Suspends Hostage Deal Talks and Demands Aid, Arab Media Reports first appeared on Algemeiner.com.

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Top Swiss Diplomat Appointed to Mediate Tensions Between Jewish Tourists, Businesses in Davos Ski Resort

A Hebrew sign at the Pischa Restaurant in the Swiss resort of Davos informing Jewish guests that they are banned from renting ski equipment. Photo: Screenshot

The tourism authority in the exclusive Swiss mountain resort of Davos has appointed a top diplomat to mediate the growing tensions between local businesses and Orthodox Jewish visitors as complaints of antisemitism increase.

Michael Ambühl — the former State Secretary of Switzerland previously in charge of the country’s relationship with the European Union (EU)  — will head a task force to tackle the problem, Swiss media outlets reported on Friday.

The announcement of Ambühl’s appointment comes just days after the resort was roiled by the refusal of a restaurant that operates a ski equipment rental store to provide services to Jewish guests.

A sign in Hebrew at the Pischa Restaurant in Davos stated that “due to various very annoying incidents, including the theft of a sledge, we no longer rent sports equipment to our Jewish brothers. This affects all sports equipment such as sledges, airboards, skis and snowshoes. Thank you for your understanding.”

Swiss police are currently investigating the incident as a possible case of discrimination. One Israeli tourist reported that he had visited the Pischa Restaurant where he “pretended not to understand Hebrew and asked if we could rent the equipment. After the woman consulted with the manager, she rejected our request.”

The tourism authority’s decision has irritated the country’s main Jewish representative body, the Swiss Israelite Association (SIG), which had been engaged in a separate dialog with the authority about accommodating Jewish guests that was abruptly closed down last year.

“The latest case shows that something is obviously wrong in Davos,” SIG General Secretary Jonathan Kreutner said in remarks quoted by the Blick news outlet.

Kreutner said that “comparable problems are not known from other holiday destinations, especially in those where our dialogue program is still active.” Kreutner acknowledged that the tourism authority “wants to take a new path, but we don’t yet know what it looks like and where it will lead.”

The post Top Swiss Diplomat Appointed to Mediate Tensions Between Jewish Tourists, Businesses in Davos Ski Resort first appeared on Algemeiner.com.

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