Over 2,500 acres burnt in north Israel by Hezbollah rockets

Israeli strikes have caused extensive wildfires in south Lebanon since cross-border clashes started in October. [Getty]

Vast swathes of the western Galilee in northern Israel were consumed by wildfires on Monday after rockets launched by Hezbollah set the area alight.

Israeli media reported more than 10 villages threatened by fires, with over 2,500 acres of land burnt. Eleven people were hospitalised as a result of smoke inhalation.

The most severe wildfires were concentrated in the northern Israeli city of Kiryat Shimona, which has been a focal point of Hezbollah and affiliated group’s attacks since October.

According to NASA satellite imagery between Monday and Tuesday, blazes were most severe in and around Kiryat Shimona.

Wildfires were clustered most intensely in the western Galillee, particularly around Kiryat Shimona. [Screenshot – NASA Fire Information for Resource Management System]

The wildfires were the first time that Hezbollah attacks led to extensive wildfires in northern Israel since cross-border clashes between Hezbollah and Israel started in the wake of the 7 October attack led by Hamas. Israeli attacks had created large wildfires in south Lebanon in months prior.

Images of flames engulfing northern Israel alarmed Israelis, with residents of northern towns telling Israeli media that they felt the situation is “getting worse.”

“The north is somewhat neglected and abandoned … We want to feel someone has our backs,” a resident of northern Israel told Israeli outlet Ynet.

The around 100,000 displaced residents of northern Israel have increasingly put pressure on the Israeli government to find a solution to the Hezbollah-Israel conflict.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered the war cabinet to meet so that they might discuss the conflict.

In Lebanon, lower-intensity wildfires burned along the western and central parts of the Lebanon-Israel border as a result of Israeli strikes in the area.

Israel also launched the highly incendiary white phosphorus munition on the outskirts of Deir Mimas on Monday, a Lebanese town some 2 kilometres from the border.

South Lebanon has suffered from frequent wildfires as a result of Israeli shelling since October.

According to the American University of Beirut, Israeli use of white phosphorus has led to more than 134 forest fires since October. More than 1,500 hectares of land had been set alight between October and early May, Lebanon’s Early Warning System said.

The scale of wildfires in Lebanon had previously been constrained by weather conditions, with Lebanon’s rainy winter tamping down the spread of blazes. Temperatures in early June have already begun to soar, however, reaching 30 degrees Celsius in the south.

Lebanon’s Early Warning System warned on Tuesday that the fire danger index is high, with much of the country elevated to the highest rating possible for fire risk.

Ecological damage to south Lebanon has been lamented by the area’s residents, many of whom depend on agriculture for their livelihoods.

In north Israel, the head of the occupied Golan Heights region at the Nature and Parks authority, Sharon Levy, said on Monday that affected areas would take “years” to recover from wildfires over the last two days.

“This is significant damage, not a small fire. Nature has the ability to recover, but the larger the fire, the slower the recovery,” Levy said.

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