BEIRUT – The leader of Lebanon’s Hezbollah held talks Wednesday with senior Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad officials at a key meeting of the region’s three largest anti-Israel terror groups amid the war raging in Gaza.
A brief statement following the meeting said Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah had agreed with Hamas’ Saleh al-Arouri and Islamic Jihad leader Ziad al-Nakhaleh on the next steps that the three would take together with other non-state actors supported by Iran – should undertake this “sensitive phase”.
Nasrallah is known as a reclusive leader who rarely ventures beyond the borders of Hezbollah’s fortified zones in southern Lebanon, where the Iran-backed jihadist group has an extensive network of underground bunkers.
Their goal, according to the statement carried in the Hezbollah-run and Lebanese state media, was to achieve “a real victory for the resistance in Gaza and Palestine” and to end Israel’s “insidious and brutal aggression against our oppressed and steadfast people.” in Gaza and the West Bank.”
No further details were disclosed. The discussions in Beirut came as the war between Israel and Hamas, the Palestinian terror group that rules the Gaza Strip, now enters its third week. The fighting was triggered by Hamas’ brutal invasion of Israel on October 7, in which more than 1,400 people were killed in Israel. Hamas also took more than 200 hostages, including small children, women and the elderly.
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According to Hamas, more than 6,000 Palestinians have since been killed in Gaza in subsequent Israeli airstrikes. The terrorist group’s numbers cannot be independently verified and do not distinguish between combatants and civilians. They are also believed to include about 1,500 Hamas terrorists killed in Israel on and since October 7.
As the death toll rises in Gaza, tensions are also rising along the tense Lebanese-Israeli border, where armed Hezbollah forces have been engaged in firefights with Israeli troops since the day after the Hamas rampage in Israel.
For now, these exchanges remain limited to a handful of border towns and Hezbollah and Israeli military positions on both sides. Lebanese Army soldiers and United Nations peacekeepers deployed in large numbers but failed to stop Hezbollah from repeatedly firing on Israeli positions and communities. Israel has evacuated residents from towns near the border.
Dozens of Hezbollah fighters have been killed in the clashes so far, the group said, while the Israeli military said six soldiers and one civilian had been killed.
Nasrallah has not yet spoken publicly about the war in Gaza and clashes along the Lebanese-Israeli border. However, other senior Hezbollah officials have warned Israel about its planned ground invasion of the Gaza Strip.
Israeli officials said they would retaliate aggressively in the event of a cross-border attack by Hezbollah from Lebanon.
“We will cripple it with a force it cannot even imagine, and with consequences for it and the Lebanese state.” [will be] “This is devastating,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said as he visited Israeli troops on the border with Lebanon on Sunday.
Washington has also repeatedly issued strong warnings that Hezbollah could start a regional war, suggesting the U.S. could also get involved.
Lebanon’s cash-strapped interim government, along with regional and international figures, is fighting to keep the country out of the war. Hezbollah, both a terrorist group and a political party, has great influence on Lebanese politics.
Hezbollah and Israel fought a months-long war in 2006 that ended in a tense stalemate. Israel considers Iran-backed Hezbollah its biggest threat and estimates it has aimed about 150,000 rockets and missiles at Israel.
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