Monday, March 4, 2024

Beirut working to convince Hezbollah not to wage war against Israel: Lebanon’s FM

The Lebanese government is working to convince  Hezbollah movement not to wage a war against Israel, Foreign Minister Abdallah Bou Habib has stated.

Bou Habib said Lebanon does “not want any war” and told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour that his country wants “peace in our southern borders”.

His comments come in the wake of the deadly attack that killed senior Hamas leader Saleh Al-Arouri on Tuesday in southern Beirut.

Lebanon believes Israel to be responsible for both Tuesday’s attack in Beirut and the deadly explosion that took place during a memorial ceremony in Iran on Wednesday, Bou Habib added, expressing his fear that the Middle East is now “really approaching a regional war”.

“We don’t want what’s happening in the south to be spread to over Lebanon. We don’t like a regional war because it’s dangerous to everybody. Dangerous to Lebanon, dangerous to Israel and to the countries surrounding Israel.”

Israel has not claimed responsibility for the attack in Beirut, though a US official has told CNN that Tel Aviv carried out the strike in Lebanon.

As fears mount that Hezbollah may make retaliatory moves against Israel, the foreign minister said his government is engaged in dialogue with Hezbollah, to dissuade the group from taking any action.

“It’s not like we can order them. We’re not claiming that but we can convince them and I think it is working in this direction,” Bou Habib added.

Several Hezbollah members have been killed in Israeli raids on southern Lebanon in one of the deadliest days for the armed group as cross-border fighting has escalated since the start of the Gaza war in October.

At least nine members of the group were killed in separate attacks on Wednesday, the Reuters news agency reported.

Since October 8, continuing clashes at the border between the Israeli army and Hezbollah have resulted in the deaths of dozens of Lebanese civilians and nearly 150 Hezbollah members. Israel and armed groups in southern Lebanon – some 200km (124 miles) from the Gaza Strip, particularly Hezbollah, have engaged in frequent back-and-forth exchanges across the United Nations-patrolled Israel-Lebanon border.

Hezbollah chief Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah stated in a televised speech on Wednesday that the killing of al-Arouri was “a major, dangerous crime about which we cannot be silent”.

He warned that if Israel wages war with Lebanon, the response would be “limitless”, adding that the killing of the Hamas senior official in Beirut “won’t go unpunished”.

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