Hochstein in Israel as tensions flare on Lebanon border


Hochstein discussed with politicians the escalation of cross-fire between Israel and Hezbollah [Getty/file photo]

US Presidential Envoy Amos Hochstein was in Israel to press for de-escalation with Lebanon, after an Israeli official said Hezbollah had fired more than 5,000 projectiles across the border since the start of the deadly Gaza war.

Israel and Hezbollah have traded near-daily cross-border fire since the start of Israel’s war in Gaza more than eight months ago, which has killed at least 37,347 Palestinians as of Monday.

The Israeli military has killed at least 472 people in Lebanon amid its attacks, most of them fighters, but also civilians and journalists.

Meanwhile,¬†Israeli authorities say at least 15 Israeli soldiers and 11 civilians have been killed in the country’s north.

Hochstein reportedly met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his team in Jerusalem days after Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on a Middle East tour that a Gaza ceasefire was the best way to resolve the Hezbollah-Israel violence.

“I can confirm that (US President Joe) Biden’s envoy met with our prime minister,” Israeli government spokesman David Mencer told a press briefing.

It came as Mencer said Hezbollah has fired over 5,000 rockets, anti-tank missiles and explosive UAVs at Israeli territory since hostilities started.

Mencer’s comments come despite the Lebanese death toll being significantly higher than the Israeli one.

Hochstein also met with Israeli President Isaac Herzog, with whom he discussed “the relentless attacks and rocket fire from Hezbollah, instigated by Iran, towards Israel’s northern towns and cities,” according to a statement from the presidential office.

Hezbollah says it has carried out more than 2,100 military operations against Israel since October 8, the day after Israel’s war in Gaza began, according to a statement released by the militant group last week.

Hezbollah escalated attacks last week after its leading commander Taleb Abdallah was killed in an Israeli strike in the village of Jouaiyya on Tuesday. The Israeli army described him as “one of Hezbollah’s most senior commanders in southern Lebanon”.

That prompted the Iran-backed Lebanese movement to launch targeted strikes on several Israeli army bases, it said.

The United Nations has expressed concern about the recent escalation on the Israel-Lebanon border and warned of the danger of miscalculation causing a wider escalation.



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