Lebanese Firefighters Battle Night Fires Believed to be Started by Israeli Shelling
Lebanese firefighters are facing a challenging task as they struggle to contain a series of night fires near the country’s southern border. These fires are believed to have been started by Israeli phosphorus shells fired into forests and orchards. The border town of Aita Al-Shaab has called for assistance from UN peacekeeping forces, Lebanese troops, and Civil Defense personnel to help extinguish the fires that have devastated nearby farming land.
Eyewitnesses have reported that the fires have detonated land mines and cluster bombs left behind by previous Israeli bombardments. Israeli shelling has also hindered the efforts of Lebanese troops to reach the threatened forests near Aita Al-Shaab. Additionally, Syrian workers on cattle farms on the outskirts of the nearby town of Aitaroun have been trapped due to the shelling.
Nabih Berri, the Lebanese parliamentary speaker, strongly condemned Israel’s actions, describing it as a “scorched earth policy” similar to what is happening in the Gaza Strip. He highlighted that internationally prohibited white phosphorus shells are being fired on Lebanon while international envoys are present in the region.
In another incident, two Hezbollah fighters were killed by Israeli shelling near the town of Yaroun. This brings the militant group’s death toll to 40 in the past two weeks. Israel announced that its forces had intercepted a surface-to-air missile launched from southern Lebanon, further escalating tensions in the region.
Baalbek-Hermel Governor Bashir Khadr has held talks with international organizations to develop a contingency plan for handling possible repercussions from the ongoing conflict in Gaza and developments on the southern Lebanese border. Baalbek-Hermel is considered a Hezbollah stronghold, and Khadr warned that Lebanon must prepare for the worst-case scenario of a full-scale war that could be even harsher than the 2006 conflict with Israel.
Khadr emphasized that the governorate would not be a suitable refuge in case of war, as it would be part of the battle. He stated that they are developing a contingency plan to determine safer areas for displacement within the governorate. However, he acknowledged that there are no truly safe areas based on past experiences with the Israeli enemy.
Jihad Haidar, head of the governorate’s Disaster Management Room, highlighted the risks of psychological and electronic warfare, including rumors and misleading media. He stressed the importance of exercising control and accuracy, spreading awareness, and seeking information from reliable sources. Haidar also emphasized the need to be fully prepared for potential destruction of buildings and infrastructure, providing equipment to remove rubble, opening alternative roads for rescue and evacuation, securing safe centers and shelter places, and ensuring the availability of water, food, and medicine.
The situation near Lebanon’s southern border remains tense as firefighters battle the night fires caused by Israeli shelling. The fires have already caused significant damage to farming land, and the threat of further escalation looms. The international community must take note of these events and work towards a peaceful resolution to prevent further loss of life and destruction.