Israel, Hezbollah trade fire across Lebanon border amid alarm over Gaza war spillover

January 7, 2024 12:13 pm

[Source: Reuters]

Air raid sirens sounded across northern Israel on Saturday as Lebanon’s Iranian-backed Hezbollah group said it fired rockets at Israel, and Israel said it struck a “terrorist cell” in retaliation, as top U.S. and EU diplomats visited the region seeking to keep the war from spreading.

Fighting raged on inside Gaza, especially in and near the southern city of Khan Younis, where the Israeli military said it had killed three members of the militant Palestinian Hamas group that rules the densely populated coastal strip.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and the European Union’s top diplomat, Josep Borrell, were on separate trips to the region to try to quell spillover from the three-month-old war into Lebanon, the Israeli-occupied West Bank and Red Sea shipping lanes.

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Israel and Hezbollah often trade fire across the Lebanese border, the West Bank is seething with anger, and the Iran-aligned Houthis in Yemen seem determined to continue attacks on Red Sea shipping until Israel stops bombarding Palestinians in Gaza.

“We have an intense focus on preventing this conflict from spreading,” Blinken told reporters in Chania, Greece, on what is his fourth trip to the region since Oct. 7.

He said he would spend the next few days discussing with allies and partners how they can use their influence, including on ways to protect civilians and maximize humanitarian aid. The fighting has displaced most of Gaza’s 2.3 million population and caused acute shortages of food, water, and medicines.