Combat in Rafah, Gaza, as the US Alerts Israel About Lebanon

Combat in Rafah, Gaza, as the US Alerts Israel About Lebanon

Witnesses reported seeing fierce fighting on Wednesday between Israeli troops and Palestinian militants in Rafah, in southern Gaza, as concerns about a potential regional conflict that may include Hezbollah, a Lebanon-based supporter of Hamas, are growing.

But days after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hinted that the war’s “intense phase” was coming to an end and as his defense minister traveled to Washington for crisis talks, Israel’s bombardment of the Gaza Strip seemed to abate.

Following an increase in cross-border firing, Israel’s main ally, the United States, cautioned it about the possibility of a major fight against Hezbollah, a militant organization supported by Iran, in Lebanon as the war in Gaza approaches its tenth month.

“It would not be difficult for another war between Israel and Hezbollah to turn into a regional conflict with dire consequences for the Middle East,” US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin warned his Israeli colleague Yoav Gallant during their visit.

According to Austin, “diplomacy is by far the best way to prevent more escalation.”

Leading Israeli figures, such as Netanyahu, have indicated that they are amenable to a diplomatic settlement of the border disputes; but, Gallant stated that Israel needs to be prepared for “every conceivable scenario.”

Following Israel’s military announcement last week that plans for an operation in Lebanon had been “approved and validated,” Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of Hezbollah, issued new threats.

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