Fears of a spread of the war in Gaza to Lebanon increased on Thursday after threats from Israel to return its northern neighbor to the “Stone Age” in the event of conflict with Hezbollah.

On October 7, the Israeli army launched a large-scale offensive in the Gaza Strip in response to an unprecedented bloody attack carried out the same day by the Hamas movement in southern Israel from neighboring Palestinian territory.

In the aftermath of this attack, pro-Iranian Hezbollah in Lebanon opened a front with Israel in support of Hamas, and since then exchanges of fire in the border areas have been almost daily.

These exchanges have intensified recently and the threats from Hezbollah and Israel have increased.

“Hezbollah understands very well that we can inflict enormous damage on Lebanon if a war is launched,” Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said Wednesday after a visit to Washington.

“We have the capacity to bring Lebanon back to the Stone Age, but we do not want to do it (…) We do not want a war,” he added, specifying that his government “ prepared for any scenario.”

In 2006, after the capture of two Israeli soldiers by Hezbollah, a 31-day war pitted Israel against the Lebanese movement, leaving more than 1,200 dead on the Lebanese side, mostly civilians, and 160 on the Israeli side, mostly soldiers.

On Tuesday, receiving Mr. Gallant, US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin warned that a war between Israel and Hezbollah could become a “regional war.”

UN humanitarian chief Martin Griffiths called such a scenario “potentially apocalyptic”.

– Attacks by Israel and Hezbollah –
On Wednesday evening, the Israeli army intensified its aerial and artillery bombardments against a dozen localities in southern Lebanon, destroying a building in Nabatiyeh, according to Lebanese media.

Hezbollah claimed responsibility for six attacks against Israeli military positions on the border.

On Sunday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced that the “intense” phase of fighting in Gaza was coming to an end and said that Israel could then “redeploy some forces north” to the Lebanese border “for defensive purposes.”

Following Canada's lead, Germany called on its nationals to leave Lebanon.

– Nasrallah speaks Thursday –
Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah is due to speak again on Thursday at 1:30 p.m. GMT.

In his previous speech on June 19, he warned that “no place” in Israel would be spared by his movement, the day after Israel announced that “operational plans for an offensive in Lebanon” had been “validated.”

On October 7, an attack by Hamas commandos infiltrated in southern Israel resulted in the deaths of 1,195 people, mostly civilians, according to an AFP count established from official Israeli data.

Of 251 people kidnapped during the attack, 116 are still held hostage in Gaza, of whom 42 are dead, according to the army.

In retaliation, Israel vowed to destroy Hamas, which has been in power in Gaza since 2007 and is considered a terrorist group by the United States and the European Union.

His army launched a major offensive against Gaza that has so far left 37,658 dead, mostly civilians, according to data from the health ministry of the local Hamas-led government.

– “Worms in wounds” –
On Thursday, at least five people were killed in airstrikes in Gaza City, in the north of the territory, also the target of violent artillery fire, according to civil defense. One person was killed in an air raid in Beit Lahia.

In Rafah (south), several buildings were destroyed by Israeli forces according to witnesses. And further north, in Khan Younes, Israeli planes targeted a school where bodies were removed from the rubble. The army said it had “attacked terrorists who were” in the school.

The war has caused a humanitarian catastrophe in the small territory of 2.4 million inhabitants, besieged by Israel and threatened with famine according to the UN.

Water, in the middle of summer, and food are lacking.

And in the few hospitals still standing in Gaza, many patients who survived Israeli raids must be abandoned or die of infections due to the lack of simple gloves, masks or soap, said American caregivers returning from the Palestinian territory.

One of them, Monica Johnston, recounts with a broken voice that it was necessary to stop treating a little boy's burns in favor of patients with a better chance of survival.

“Two days later, he started to have worms in his wounds.” The child was buried, his body completely infested.

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