Israel Evacuates Border as Deadly Clashes Raise Fear of Second War Erupting

Lisi Niesner/Reuters
Lisi Niesner/Reuters

Israel on Monday announced that it will evacuate 28 northern communities close to the Lebanon border in the wake of attacks which have broken out in the region in tandem with the ongoing conflict against Hamas in the south.

The mass evacuation raises fears that a second war is about to break out between Israel and Hezbollah, which is based in Lebanon.

A joint statement from the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) and the Israeli Defense Ministry said the communities being evacuated stand within 1.2 miles of the Lebanese border. The residents will be taken to “state-funded guesthouses,” the statement added, providing no timeline as to when they will be able to return home.

Gaza Hospitals Will Likely Run Out of Fuel in Just a Few Hours, U.N. Warns

The plan was approved by Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, the statement said, and it will be carried out by “the heads of the local municipalities, the Ministry of Interior and the National Emergency Management Authority (NEMA) of the Ministry of Defense.”

Fears have been growing of a second front emerging in Israel’s war which began on Oct. 7 when Hamas launched a major attack in the south. The IDF said over the weekend that at least 1,400 Israelis are known to have been killed in the attacks. Gaza’s Health Ministry said Monday that at least 2,750 people had been killed and another 9,700 wounded as a result of Israel’s reprisal airstrikes in the Gaza Strip.

Amid the chaos, Lebanon’s Hezbollah has launched projectiles over the northern border at Israeli targets. On Sunday, the IDF said multiple anti-tank missiles were fired by Hezbollah throughout the day, with at least four civilians reportedly wounded in a strike which hit Shtula—one of the communities listed in the new evacuation order. One man in his 40s died after the attack, according to The Jerusalem Post, with the IDF retaliating by targeting the source of the fire.

The cross-border troubles have led to the deaths of others, including Reuters videographer Issam Abdallah who was killed in a strike on Friday which left others injured. The IDF has admitted that it was firing artillery into Lebanon at the time in response to an earlier attack, but it has not yet confirmed that Israel was responsible for Abdallah’s death.

The loss of life in the north has come in parallel to a much more acute crisis in the south as Israel continues to bombard Gaza ahead of an expected ground invasion of the enclave. On Monday, reports emerged of a possible temporary ceasefire to allow foreign passport holders to leave the area and aid to be brought in—but the office of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told Reuters that no such arrangement had been agreed.

With Israeli tanks and troops massed on the Gaza border, humanitarian organizations have been begging for aid to be allowed into the besieged enclave. Essential supplies of food, medicine, and water are all becoming desperately scarce, with the crisis expected to significantly deepen if a ground invasion begins.

Over a million Gaza residents have fled their homes and local hospitals have already been overwhelmed by the massive influx of patients caused by Israeli airstrikes. Israel has ordered around half of Gaza’s 2 million population to move to the south of the region for their own safety, while Hamas has simultaneously called for families to ignore the instruction and stay in their homes.

On Monday, IDF spokesman Read Adm. Daniel Haggari says the families of 199 Israeli hostages have been notified that their relatives are being held in Gaza. He said the Israeli military has information about where some of the captives are being held and said that no attacks would be carried out “that would endanger our people.”

Hamas says 22 of the hostages have already been killed by Israel’s aerial bombardment of the Gaza Strip.

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