Tel Aviv: The war between Hamas and Israel escalated on Sunday as Hezbollah, the Shiite Muslim militant group and political party based in Lebanon, attacked three Israeli positions in a disputed area along the border with Syria. The attack raised fears of a wider outbreak of the conflict that has already killed more than 1,000 people.
Hezbollah said in a statement that it launched a large number of rockets and explosives at Israeli positions in the Shebaa Farms area, also known as Har Dov, in solidarity with the Palestinian protests. The area is claimed by Lebanon, Syria, and Israel, and has been occupied by Israel since 1967. Hezbollah said that it directly targeted Israeli military sites and inflicted casualties and damage. The Israeli army confirmed that it was hit by rockets and shells from Lebanon and responded by launching drone strikes on Hezbollah positions in the area.
Hezbollah’s involvement in the war poses a threat to Israel, which considers the group as one of its arch-enemies. Hezbollah is supported by Iran and is estimated to have tens of thousands of rockets that can reach deep into Israel. Israel and Hezbollah have fought several wars in the past, most notably in 2006, when a 34-day conflict killed about 1,200 people in Lebanon and 160 in Israel. There has been tension on Israel’s northern border for months, as Israel has carried out airstrikes on Iranian and Hezbollah targets in Syria.
The attack by Hezbollah came after Hamas intensified its rocket barrage on Israel on Saturday, firing more than 5,000 rockets in 20 minutes at southern and central Israel. Hamas also sent armed militants into Israel through tunnels and attacked civilians. More than 600 people have been killed in Israel, including dozens of soldiers and policemen who died fighting the terrorists. The dead also included many foreign nationals who were working or visiting Israel. More than 2,000 people have been injured, out of which 20 are in critical condition and 330 are seriously injured. The terrorists have also taken more than 100 civilians and army personnel hostage. Israeli television aired several videos of relatives of captured or missing Israelis pleading for help as their loved ones’ lives were in danger.
Israel has retaliated by conducting more than 500 airstrikes on the Gaza Strip, destroying many terrorist hideouts and infrastructure. Israel has also deployed ground troops and tanks near the border to prevent further infiltration by Hamas militants. So far, more than 400 terrorists have been killed and 1,990 others have been injured in the Israeli attack. The Palestinian Health Ministry said that at least 300 people, including children, were killed and about 1,800 people were injured in the Gaza Strip. Many buildings have been reduced to rubble and thousands of people have been displaced by the Israeli bombardment.
The war between Hamas and Israel started on May 10, after weeks of tension over the planned eviction of some Palestinian families from East Jerusalem and clashes at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound. Hamas fired rockets at Jerusalem and other cities, triggering a fierce response from Israel. Several attempts to broker a ceasefire have failed so far, as both sides have vowed to continue fighting until their demands are met. The international community has expressed concern over the humanitarian crisis and the rising death toll in the region and called for an end to the violence.