Israel Resumes Attacks on Southern Lebanon after ‘Temporary Truce’

Relatives visit the graves of killed Hezbollah fighters during Eid al-Adha in the southern Lebanese town of Naqoura. (AFP)
Relatives visit the graves of killed Hezbollah fighters during Eid al-Adha in the southern Lebanese town of Naqoura. (AFP)
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Israel Resumes Attacks on Southern Lebanon after ‘Temporary Truce’

Relatives visit the graves of killed Hezbollah fighters during Eid al-Adha in the southern Lebanese town of Naqoura. (AFP)
Relatives visit the graves of killed Hezbollah fighters during Eid al-Adha in the southern Lebanese town of Naqoura. (AFP)

Israel resumed on Monday strikes on southern Lebanon after two days of an undeclared truce that emerged after Hezbollah stopped its attacks against Israel on Saturday night.

The lull in fighting prompted displaced residents of the South to visit their villages on Sunday and Monday, which coincided with the Eid al-Adha holiday.

The calm was short-lived as Israel resumed its attacks around 11 am on Monday, with a drone strike killing a Hezbollah fighter.

The developments coincided with the return of US envoy to the region Amos Hochstein to Beirut on Monday, the second stop of his trip that he kicked off in Tel Aviv. He is expected to meet with caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati and parliament Speaker Nabih Berri.

Ahead of his arrival, Hezbollah announced its rejection of the proposal to set up a buffer zone in the South, stressing that it won’t stop its attacks against Israel before a ceasefire is reached in Gaza.

Hezbollah MP Hassan Fadlallah described on Monday the idea of a buffer zone as an "illusion drawn up by the leaders of the enemy."

"The issue is not up for discussion because the resistance [Hezbollah] is deployed on its land and defending it, while the enemy is occupying the land of the Palestinian, Syrian and Lebanese people. It must pull out from them," he added.

"The only viable solution is an end to the hostilities that is approved by the resistance in Palestine. This will lead to an end to fighting on the Lebanese front," he went on to say.

"Lebanon will then decide what steps to take to protect its people and sovereignty. The enemy is in no position to impose its conditions," stressed Fadlallah.

The undeclared truce allowed some displaced residents of the South to their towns to pray and mourn loved ones killed in months of cross-border violence between Israel and Hezbollah.

"Today is Eid al-Adha, but it's completely different this year," said teacher Rabab Yazbek, 44, at a cemetery in the coastal town of Naqoura, from which many residents have fled.

Every family has lost someone, "whether a relative, friend or neighbor," Yazbek said, adding that two people she had taught had been killed.

Israel and Hezbollah, which is allied with Hamas, have traded near-daily cross-border fire since the Palestinian group's October 7 attack on Israel which triggered war in the Gaza Strip.

The violence has killed at least 473 people in Lebanon, most of them fighters but also including 92 civilians, according to an AFP tally.

Israeli authorities say at least 15 soldiers and 11 civilians have been killed in the country's north.

The Naqoura municipality said it had coordinated with the Lebanese army so that residents could safely visit the cemetery and mosque for two hours for Eid al-Adha.

Residents reportedly returned to a number of south Lebanon border villages on Monday morning as part of similar initiatives.

UNIFIL armored vehicles patrol on the entrance of the southern Lebanese town of Naqoura. (AFP)

'Thousand thanks'

Yellow Hezbollah flags and green ones belonging to the group's ally the Amal movement flew at the recently established cemetery near the sea, located just a stone's throw from the United Nations peacekeepers' headquarters.

Lebanese soldiers accompanied the residents as they entered the town.

The army coordinates with the UN peacekeepers, who in turn communicate with the Israeli side as part of efforts to maintain calm.

In Naqoura, a damaged sign reading "thank you for your visit" lay along the highway.

Amid the concrete rubble and twisted metal of one building, the shattered glass of a family photo lay scattered on the ground.

Nearby, potted plants hung from the veranda rails of another devastated structure, with a pink child's toy car among the debris.

Rawand Yazbek, 50, was inspecting her clothing shop, whose glass store front had been destroyed, though the rest remained largely intact.

"A thousand thanks to God," she said, grateful that not all was lost.

"As you can see... our stores are full of goods," she said, pointing to shelves and racks of colorful clothes.

04 June 2024, Lebanon, Naqoura: A view of rubble of destroyed houses caused by Israeli air raids are seen in the Lebanese southern village of Naqoura, located at the Lebanese-Israeli border. (dpa)

'Cowardly'

Hezbollah stepped up attacks against northern Israel last week after an Israeli strike killed a senior commander from the movement.

The Iran-backed group has not claimed any attacks since Saturday afternoon.

Lebanese official media reported Israeli bombardment in the country's south over the weekend, as well as a deadly strike on Monday. Hezbollah said later that one of its fighters had been killed.

Like other residents who support the Hezbollah and Amal movements, Naqoura municipality head Abbas Awada called attacks on the town "cowardly".

Last week, a strike there blamed on Israel killed an employee of the area's public water company.

More than 95,000 people in Lebanon have been displaced by the hostilities, according to the UN's International Organization for Migration.

Tens of thousands have also been displaced on the Israeli side of the frontier.

Hezbollah lawmaker Hassan Ezzedine, among a large crowd that attended prayers at the Naqoura mosque, said the turnout was a message that "this land is ours, we will not leave it."

"We support this resistance (Hezbollah) because it's what protects us, it's what defends us," he said.



Israeli Occupation of Palestinian Territory ‘Illegal’, Says UN Top Court

The panel of judges, with President Nawaf Salam (C), at the International Court of Justice in The Hague, the Netherlands, during a non-binding ruling on the legal consequences of the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem, 19 July 2024. (EPA)
The panel of judges, with President Nawaf Salam (C), at the International Court of Justice in The Hague, the Netherlands, during a non-binding ruling on the legal consequences of the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem, 19 July 2024. (EPA)
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Israeli Occupation of Palestinian Territory ‘Illegal’, Says UN Top Court

The panel of judges, with President Nawaf Salam (C), at the International Court of Justice in The Hague, the Netherlands, during a non-binding ruling on the legal consequences of the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem, 19 July 2024. (EPA)
The panel of judges, with President Nawaf Salam (C), at the International Court of Justice in The Hague, the Netherlands, during a non-binding ruling on the legal consequences of the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem, 19 July 2024. (EPA)

The UN's top court, in a sweeping opinion on Friday, said that Israel's decades-long occupation of Palestinian territory was "illegal" and needed to end as soon as possible.

The advisory opinion by The Hague-based International Court of Justice was immediately slammed as a "decision of lies" by Israel, but welcomed by the Palestinian presidency, which called it "historic".

The ICJ's statement, called an "advisory opinion", is not binding, but it comes amid mounting concern over the death toll and destruction in Israel's war against Hamas sparked by the group's brutal October 7 attacks.

It is also likely to increase diplomatic pressure on Israel, whose lawmakers on Thursday voted to oppose a Palestinian state, calling it an "existential threat".

In The Hague, ICJ presiding judge Nawaf Salam said: "The court has found... that Israel's continued presence in the Palestinian Territories is illegal."

Israel is "under the obligation to bring to an end its unlawful presence as rapidly as possible," the judge said in its finding, read at the Peace Palace, seat of the ICJ.

The ICJ added that Israel was "under an obligation to cease immediately all new settlement activities and to evacuate all settlers" from occupied land.

Israel's policies and practices, including the maintenance of a wall between the territories, "amount to annexation of large parts" of the occupied territory, the court said.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu slammed the ICJ's opinion as a "decision of lies".

"The Jewish people are not occupiers in their own land -- not in our eternal capital Jerusalem, nor in our ancestral heritage of Judea and Samaria" (the occupied West Bank), Netanyahu said in a statement.

Palestinian foreign minister Riyad Al-Maliki called it a "watershed moment".

A separate, high-profile case that South Africa has brought before the court alleges that Israel has committed genocidal acts during its Gaza offensive.

South Africa, in a statement, called upon the international community "to bring an immediate end to the occupation and the gross violations of international humanitarian and human rights law being perpetrated by Israel against the Palestinian people".

- 'Extreme danger' -

In late 2022, the UN's General Assembly asked the ICJ to give an "advisory opinion" on the "legal consequences arising from the policies and practices of Israel in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem".

The ICJ held a week-long session in February to hear submissions from countries following the request -- supported by most countries within the Assembly.

During the hearings, most speakers called on Israel to end its 57-year occupation. They warned a prolonged occupation posed an "extreme danger" to stability in the Middle East and beyond.

But the United States said Israel should not be legally obliged to withdraw without taking its "very real security needs" into account.

Israel did not take part in the oral hearings.

- 'Ongoing violation' -

The General Assembly asked the ICJ to consider two questions.

Firstly, the court should examine the legal consequences of what the UN called "the ongoing violation by Israel of the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination".

In its answer, the ICJ's judges said Israel's "unlawful policies and practices are in breach" of its "obligation to respect the rights of the Palestinian people and their right to self-determination".

In June 1967, Israel defeated some of its Arab neighbors in a six-day war, seizing the West Bank and East Jerusalem, at the time annexed by Jordan, the Golan Heights from Syria, and the Gaza Strip and Sinai Peninsula from Egypt.

Israel then began to settle the 70,000 square kilometers (27,000 square miles) of seized Arab territory.

The UN later declared the occupation of Palestinian territory illegal, and Cairo regained Sinai under its 1979 peace deal with Israel.

- 'Restrictions' -

The ICJ also was asked to look into the consequences of what it described as Israel's "adoption of related discriminatory legislation and measures".

In this finding, the ICJ said a "regime of comprehensive restrictions imposed by Israel on Palestinians consisted of systemic discrimination based on race, religion or ethnic origin."

The ICJ rules in disputes between states. Normally, its judgements are binding but it has few means to enforce them.

In this case, however, the opinion is non-binding, although most advisory opinions are in fact acted upon.

The ICJ has previously issued advisory opinions on the legality of Kosovo's 2008 declaration of independence from Serbia and apartheid South Africa's occupation of Namibia.

It also handed down an opinion in 2004 declaring that parts of the wall erected by Israel in the occupied Palestinian territory were illegal and should be torn down.

Israel has not complied with that ICJ ruling.