Lebanon says does not want to engage in war with Israel

Beirut does not wish to be drawn into the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas, Lebanese Prime Minister-designate Najib Mikati stated Monday, according to the state news agency, NNA.

“We do not want Lebanon to enter into the ongoing war, and we are striving for that,” Mikati said in a meeting Monday with Lebanese Foreign Minister Abdullah Bu Habib, adding that part of the Lebanese government’s priority was to “maintain security and stability in southern Lebanon.”

Lebanon and Israel are considered enemy states, but a truce between the two has largely held since a conflict between them in 2006.

There have been several small-scale rocket attacks in recent years from Lebanon — which borders Israel to the north — that have prompted retaliatory strikes from Israel. Palestinian factions in Lebanon were believed to be behind those rocket attacks.

Israel Defense Forces (IDF) announced in a statement Monday that its helicopters were striking in Lebanese territory after a “number of armed suspects” who “infiltrated” Israel from Lebanon were killed.

The Lebanese Army urged citizens to avoid areas along the southern border amid the Israeli air and artillery strikes.

“The outskirts of the towns of al-Dhaira and Aita Al-Shaab and other border areas are being subjected to air and artillery bombardment by the Israeli enemy. The Army Command calls on citizens to take the utmost precaution and caution and not to go to areas adjacent to the border in order to preserve their safety,” the army said in a statement.

The IDF similarly cautioned Israeli civilians residing near the Lebanese border to “remain in their homes.”

The United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) peacekeepers also announced in a statement on Monday that its Head of Mission and Force Commander Major General Aroldo Lázaro is in contact with the parties involved, “urging them to exercise maximum restraint and utilize UNIFIL’s liaison and coordination mechanisms to prevent further escalation and loss of life.”

Lebanese Army Commander, General Joseph Aoun, met on Monday with Major General Aroldo Lázaro to discuss the situation at the southern border, the Lebanese Army added.

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