Another Israeli border town evacuated as Hezbollah clashes escalate

Another Israeli border town evacuated as Hezbollah clashes escalate
Another town in northern Israel has been emptied of its residents as cross-border fighting continues to escalate with Lebanon's Hezbollah group.
3 min read
20 June, 2024
The Christian majority Palestinian town in Israel is a mere few kilometres from the Lebanese border [Getty]

Israel has evacuated another town along the Lebanese frontier as cross-border clashes with Hezbollah intensify, amid fears of a wider war between the two sides.

Residents of the Upper Galilee town of Jish, a few kilometres from the Lebanese border and 13km north of the city of Safed, have been asked to leave their homes due to the escalation.

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Jish is a Palestinian town in northern Israel made up of a Maronite Christian majority, as well as Melkite Christians and Sunni Muslims.

Tens of thousands of Israelis have already been evacuated from towns and settlements in the north since fighting with Hezbollah broke out in October, in parallel with Israel’s war on Gaza.

An estimated 120,000 have been evacuated in total from the north and southern areas near the Gaza Strip, according to the Israeli Channel 12.

On the Lebanese side of the border, around 100,000 residents have been forced to leave their homes due to the Israeli strikes.

Israeli Defence Minister Yoav Gallant said Wednesday evening the situation in northern Israel will change either through a political settlement or wider military operation.

"I said at the end of the assessment of the situation in the Northern Command with the Chief of Staff, the Commander of the Northern Command, and the Commander of the Air Force that the IDF forces… continue to prepare against every threat that comes our way, both in defence and attack," Gallant wrote on X.

"The situation in the north will change with a political settlement or an extensive military operation, and we have a duty to return citizens safely to their homes."

Israel has repeatedly threatened to storm southern Lebanon to push Hezbollah back from the border and create a buffer zone with some Israeli ministers calling for the annihilation of the Iran-backed movement and destruction of Beirut.

Hezbollah says its open front with Israel is in support of the Palestinians and has refused to halt its operations until a ceasefire in Gaza is reached, where at least 37,431 Palestinians have been killed.

The US and France are trying to reach a ceasefire between Lebanon and Israel which would see the enemy states end their border dispute and possibly achieve a more lasting truce, but intense cross-border attacks in recent weeks have complicated the situation.

Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah reiterated his warnings to Israel during a speech on Wednesday, saying his group was ready for any worst-case scenario.

Eitan Davidi, chairman of the Israeli border settlement of Margaliot, fears that nowhere will be safe in Israel in an all-out war with Hezbollah.

"We are disturbed by the laxity and weakness of the Israeli government on the northern front," he said.

"The Israeli government has lost its ability to deter [Hezbollah]."

Davidi had earlier called for the Israeli military to withdraw from Margaliot to prevent the town from being a target of Hezbollah.