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Residents flee Israeli bombing in south Lebanon

Residents flee Israeli bombing in south Lebanon following border clash
3 min read
09 October, 2023
Lebanese press reported traffic jams on the highways leading out of the south as displaced residents took shelter further north.
Smoke billows following Israeli artillery bombing on the outskirts of the southern Lebanese border village of Ayta as-Shaab, from an Israeli military position overlooking the area (background), on 9 October 2023. [Getty]

Residents of towns along the southern Lebanese border fled their homes on Monday, 9 October, as Israeli helicopters launched dozens of airstrikes following a clash with Palestinian Islamic Jihad fighters who crossed the border into Israel.

A statement from the Palestinian militant group said that four of its militants were killed in the clashes, while seven Israeli troops were wounded.

Israeli media said that the over two hours of airstrikes were targeting Hezbollah positions in southern Lebanon, killing at least one member of the pro-Iran militia.

Residents were seen fleeing the villages of Ayta as-Shaab and Qouzah, where airstrikes hit, stopping to warn passersby on the road to get to more populated areas to avoid further Israeli bombing.

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A panicked resident told The New Arab that they had seen someone get hit by an explosion while filming the ongoing destruction, though this could not be independently confirmed.

Lebanese press reported traffic jams on the highways leading out of the south as displaced residents took shelter further north.

The strikes came amid rising tensions on the Israel-Lebanon border, as Hezbollah shot rockets into northern Israel "in solidarity" with the Hamas attack on southern Israel, which started on Saturday.

The Lebanese militia has not said if it will join in the fighting against Israel, with reports suggesting that an Israeli land invasion of Gaza could trigger greater military involvement from the group.

Residents of towns along the Lebanese-Israel border said they were bracing themselves for further airstrikes in the coming days.

"We're proud of what happened in Gaza; we are just worried about our children. We are waiting for an operation. I'm not sure where to go, as there is nowhere safe in Lebanon," a father of 3 living in the border town of Beit Leif told TNA under the condition of anonymity.

Another resident said that he had sent his children to Beirut for safety but that he had to remain in the area due to his position as a local member of the Internal Security Forces (ISF).

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The Lebanese army issued a statement warning citizens to leave areas close to the border "in order to preserve their safety."

Residents of the Upper Galilee in Israel, which runs along the Lebanese border, were also told to leave the area.

It was unclear how Hezbollah would respond to the airstrikes and the killing of one of its fighters, with the group's leader, Hassan Nasrallah, expected to announce in a speech on Monday night.

One security official in Beir Lief, a Hezbollah-controlled town, told TNA he was ready for an operation.

"We are not scared of the shelling; we are just worried that the war will start and end without them giving us the green light to enter Israel," the official said, declining to give his name as he was not authorised to speak to the press.

Other Lebanese parties were less eager for further Hezbollah involvement, worried it would pull Lebanon into a full-scale war.

"We reject the country being plunged into wars that we cannot bear, by militias … imposing their deadly choices and blaming them on them on the entire Lebanese society," a statement from the National Bloc, a secular Lebanese political party, said on Monday.