As Israel prepares for a possible ground invasion of the Gaza Strip, tension is also flaring on its northern border with Lebanon, creating worries that the war could spread.
On Monday, Israel’s military and its defense ministry said it would evacuate 28 communities that are within two kilometers (1.2 miles) of the Lebanese border.
The border has been a longtime staging ground for attacks by Hezbollah, the Iranian-backed Lebanese group that has fought wars with Israel in the past. On Sunday, Hezbollah claimed responsibility for an attack that day in Israel that killed at least one civilian.
On Friday, Issam Abdallah, a Reuters video journalist, was killed in southern Lebanon after missiles launched from the direction of Israel struck him. Six other journalists — from Reuters, Al Jazeera and Agence France-Presse — were also injured in the attack, which occurred near the village of Alma al-Shaab.
Organizations that defend journalists condemned the attack, and Lebanon’s president blamed Israel. Gilad Erdan, Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations, said the country did not target journalists, “but you know, we’re in a state of war — things might happen.”
The World Health Organization says it has expedited the delivery of critical medical supplies to Lebanon in preparation for a potential escalation of clashes on the border with Israel. Two shipments containing “enough surgical and trauma medicines and supplies to meet the needs of 800 to 1,000 injured patients” arrived in Beirut on Sunday, it said in a statement. Lebanon’s health care system has been hobbled by the country’s economic collapse, and it has an acute shortage of some medicines.
Israel’s defense establishment has said that if the country mounts a ground invasion of Gaza, Hezbollah could take the opportunity to launch an attack and draw the country into a wider regional war. Israel fought a monthlong war with Lebanon in 2006. So far, both sides have held off on such an escalation this time.
Lebanon’s caretaker prime minister, Najib Mikati, said that the government was “working for peace” amid escalating clashes between Israel and armed groups in Lebanon, adding however that “the decision to wage war is in the hands of Israel,” according to a statement released on Monday by the Grand Serail, where Lebanon’s prime minister is based.
Mr. Mikati was quoted as saying that “the Lebanese are unable to bear” the opening of a second front in the country’s south.
On Monday, Yossi Yehoshua, a defense reporter at Yedioth Ahronoth, an Israeli newspaper, wrote that some in the military had even considered a pre-emptive attack against Hezbollah. “There are an increasing number of military officers who believe that Israel now has a historic opportunity to rid itself of the major threat,” he wrote.