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“Absolutely Necessary” To Not Drag Lebanon Into Gaza War: Top EU Official

2024-01-06 15:28:45

'Absolutely Necessary' To Not Drag Lebanon Into Gaza War: Top EU Official

“It is imperative to avoid regional escalation in the Middle East,” said Josep Borrell (File)

Beirut, Lebanon:

The European Union foreign policy chief on Saturday warned against a regional conflict that would involve Lebanon, as border clashes intensified nearly three months into Israel’s war with Hezbollah ally Hamas.

“It is imperative to avoid regional escalation in the Middle East. It is absolutely necessary to avoid Lebanon being dragged into a regional conflict,” Josep Borrell said during a press conference in Beirut with Lebanon’s foreign minister.

“I am sending this message to Israel too: nobody will win from a regional conflict,” he added.

Lebanon’s Iran-backed Hezbollah and Israel have exchanged near-daily cross-border fire since Hamas’s unprecedented October 7 attack on southern Israel, which triggered the war.

But a strike in Hezbollah’s south Beirut stronghold that killed Hamas’s deputy leader, Saleh al-Aruri, on Tuesday intensified fears of a wider conflagration.

A US Defense Department official, who requested not to be identified by name, has told AFP that Israel carried out the strike that killed Aruri. Israel has not claimed responsibility.

The Lebanese group on Saturday said it retaliated by launching dozens of rockets at a northern Israeli base. Israel’s army said it identified around 40 rocket launches from Lebanese territory, and struck a cell responsible for some of them.

“I think that the war can be prevented, has to be avoided and diplomacy can prevail,” Borrell told reporters.

“Diplomatic channels have to be open to signal that the war is not the only option but it is the worst option,” he said.

Earlier Saturday, Borrell met Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati, United Nations peacekeeping force (UNIFIL) commander Aroldo Lazaro and the influential speaker of parliament Nabih Berri.

His visit is part of a push by Western diplomats to avoid further regional escalation, especially on the Lebanon-Israel border, and call for a solution to the Gaza war.

After his meeting with Borrell, Mikati warned that “any large-scale escalation in south Lebanon could push the region to completely explode”.

On Wednesday, Borrell had warned Aruri’s killing could “cause an escalation of the conflict”, and urged the international community to “impose” a solution for lasting peace between Israel and the Palestinians.

Nearly three months of cross-border fire have killed more than 175 people in Lebanon, including 130 Hezbollah fighters but also more than 20 civilians, including three journalists, according to an AFP tally.

In northern Israel, nine soldiers and at least four civilians have been killed, according to Israeli authorities.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

Israel Hamas War,Hezbollah,israel lebanon

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