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Updated January 7th, 2024 at 09:49 IST

Hezbollah, Israel exchange cross-border fire as Blinken arrives to prevent escalation

During his urgent and the fourth diplomatic visit to Middle East, Blinken underscored the importance of protecting civilian lives in Israel, West Bank.

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US
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken. | Image:AP
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Israel and Lebanese based militant group Hezbollah exchanged heaviest cross-border fire as US Secretary of State Antony Blinken arrived in the Middle East to defuse the escalating tensions. As IDF struck Hamas’ deputy leader Saleh al-Arouri in the Lebanese capital, the militant group’s leader urged retaliation for the Hamas leader assassination. Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah wanted that if he did not react and attack Israel for the killing of Saleh Arouri, Hamas' deputy political leader, the entire Lebanon will be vulnerable to the attack of Israeli military.

Blinken proposes urgent mechanisms to stem violence, calm rhetoric

During his urgent and the fourth diplomatic visit to Middle East, Blinken underscored the importance of protecting civilian lives in Israel and the West Bank and Gaza and focused on securing the release of all remaining hostages. Blinken reiterated shared commitment to facilitating the increased, sustained delivery of life-saving humanitarian assistance to civilians in Gaza and the resumption of essential services; as well as ensuring that Palestinians are not forcibly displaced from Gaza.  

As tensions on Lebanon and the Israeli border flared, Blinken proposed urgent mechanisms to stem violence, calm rhetoric, and reduce regional tensions, including deterring Houthi attacks on commercial shipping in the Red Sea and avoiding escalation in Lebanon. US reaffirmed its commitment to working with partners to set the conditions necessary for peace in the Middle East. In order to deter further escalation, Blinken tabled comprehensive, tangible steps toward the realization of a future Palestinian state alongside the State of Israel, with both living in peace and security. 

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During his Middle East tour, European Union’s foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, said, “It is absolutely necessary to avoid Lebanon being dragged into a regional conflict.” Hezbollah  launched 62 rockets toward an Israeli air surveillance base on Mount Meron. It noted that these strikes were direct response to Arouri's killing. Two Israeli army posts were struck near the border. As many as 40 rockets were fired toward Meron and that a base was targeted, Israel said.  The army’s chief spokesperson, Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari, said no casualties were caused.

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Published January 7th, 2024 at 09:49 IST

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