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BEIRUT: The head of Hezbollah said on Friday Lebanon would be “exposed” to more Israeli operations if his powerful Lebanese armed group did not respond to the killing of the deputy chief of Hamas on the outskirts of Beirut.

Saleh al-Arouri was killed in a drone strike on a southern suburb of Beirut on Tuesday, in what some analysts said could also be seen as a message to Hezbollah that its strongholds were vulnerable to attack.

Delivering a televised address for the second time in less than a week after nearly two months without doing so, Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah said the group “cannot be silent about a violation of this level.”

“This means that all of Lebanon will become exposed, all cities, villages, and figures will become exposed,” he said.

Health ministry in Gaza says 22,600 killed in war

Hezbollah launched rockets across the border on Oct. 8 in support of Hamas, one day after Hamas gunmen carried out the deadly attack on southern Israel that triggered Israel’s military offensive in the Gaza Strip.

Nasrallah said Hezbollah had carried out some 670 operations on the Lebanese-Israeli border since then, destroying a large number of Israeli military vehicles and tanks.

He also said that if Israel managed to achieve its military goals in Gaza, it would then turn to Lebanon - but warned that any broader war would impact residents of northern Israel first.

“They are calling on their government to go to war on Lebanon or to have a military solution for Lebanon. I tell them: this choice is a mistake, for you and your government, and the first one who will pay for this mistaken choice is you.”

He had on Wednesday warned Israel against expanding its war, saying there would be “no ceilings” and “no rules” to his group’s fighting if Israel chose to launch a war on Lebanon.

“Whoever thinks of war with us - in one word, he will regret it,” Nasrallah said.

He also said the end of the Gaza war could present a “historic opportunity” for Lebanon to restore its control over territory now occupied by Israel, including the Shebaa Farms, the town of Ghajar and other territory.

Israel has held the Shebaa Farms, a 15-square-mile (39-square-km) patch of land, since 1967. Both Syria and Lebanon claim the Shebaa Farms are Lebanese. Ghajar straddles the Israel-Lebanon border. Lebanon considers it to be its territory but its residents have professed allegiance to Syria.

In August, senior White House adviser Amos Hochstein said the U.S. was exploring the possibility of resolving the long-standing land border dispute between Lebanon and Israel.

The current demarcation line between the two countries is known as the Blue Line, a frontier mapped by the United Nations that marks the line to which Israeli forces withdrew when they left south Lebanon in 2000.


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