Israeli balloons warn Lebanese to flee

Some Israeli extremists have already voiced their support for an invasion of south Lebanon and building of settlements [Getty]

Balloons supposedly sent from Israel to southern Lebanon on Wednesday warned Lebanese to leave their homes, saying their land “belongs to Jews”.

White balloons, likely sent by Israeli extremists, landed in villages in southern Lebanon and contained maps of Lebanon showing the distribution of the country’s religious sects, as Israeli war planes struck the country.

Many ultra-Orthodox and other Israelis believe the borders of Israel should stretch into Jordan, Egypt, Lebanon, and other Arab countries, as well as swallow up the Palestinian territory.

“This is Israel’s land that is owned by the Jews. You are required to evacuate immediately!” the message read in both Hebrew and Arabic, according to a photo shared by social media users.

Israeli extremists have already called for an invasion of southern Lebanon and the establishment of Jewish settlements on the territory.

Earlier this month the extremist Israeli group calling itself the South Lebanon Settlement Movement held a conference about the creation of Jewish settlements in Lebanon.

The group was first established in April amid ongoing hostilities between Israel and Hezbollah, which has left hundreds of Lebanese dead and thousands homeless.

Some far-right Israeli ministers, including Bezalel Smotrich and Itamar Ben-Gvir, who are settlers themselves, have called for the occupation of southern Lebanon and the creation of a buffer zone there.

Tens of thousands of Israelis have left their homes in northern Israel due to the clashes with Hezbollah, and are piling pressure on their government to take decisive action. 

Meanwhile, Israel has emptied villages in southern Lebanon with repeated airstrikes and the use of white phosphorus.

The devastating cross-border clashes, in addition to the Gaza war, and there are growing concerns of a wider conflict breaking out with the US is trying to mediate a deal between the two sides.

Hezbollah has refused to halt missile and drone attacks on Israel before a ceasefire is reached in Gaza, where its Palestinian ally, Hamas, is also battling Israeli ground forces.

The US is trying to mediate a deal between the two sides and has warned of devastating regional consequences in the event of a wider war.

Hours after the balloons were deployed, Israeli airstrikes on the south Lebanon city of Nabatiyeh levelled an entire building, injuring several people.

More than 480 people have perished in Lebanon since the cross-border violence started in October, the vast majority of them fighters, but also children, paramedics and three journalists.

Israeli authorities say at least 15 soldiers and 11 civilians have died, but Hezbollah believes the actual toll to be higher.


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