Today, as the death toll soared in Gaza, clashes intensified on the Lebanon-Israel border. Hezbollah announced the death of five more militants, sparking anger in southern Lebanon. The killing of these Hezbollah militants followed an October 21 announcement by Israel’s Defence Minister, Yoav Gallant, that Hezbollah forces had killed an Israeli-American Staff Sargent and wounded several other Israeli soldiers.
Since Palestinian militants launched attacks in Israel on October 7, there have been near-daily clashes on the Lebanon-Israel border, sparking fears of a major expansion of Israel’s current war on Gaza.
Accompanied by a driver from south Lebanon and my Lebanese-Canadian guide, Nada Raphaël, I visited the Lebanon-Israel border today. (The complete video report of our visit appears at the end of this article.)
At the border, we travelled between the Lebanese villages of Taybeh and Marjaayoun. Taybeh appears in the centre-left portion of the map below. Marjaayoun lies to the northeast of Taybeh. Both villages are located near the Israeli town of Qiryat Shemona (in the bottom left-hand corner of the map below). Qiryat Shemona’s twenty thousand inhabitants were evacuated by Israeli authorities days ago.
Upon entering the village of Marjaayoun, which is a predominantly Maronite Christian community, we found villagers emerging from Sunday services at the St. George Church. I interviewed one of the villagers, Ramon Salim, about the danger of a war engulfing the region.
Not far from the St. George Church, we encountered Al Jazeera correspondent, Ehab el Okdi, and his cameraman. They were reporting from a hill-top overlooking Qiryat Shemona. I took the opportunity to commend them for their bravery.
Last year, in occupied Palestine, an Israeli sniper murdered Al Jazeera correspondent Shireen Abu Akleh. Only days ago, an Israeli missile killed a Reuters reporter at the Lebanon border and wounded six other journalists, including reporters from Al Jazeera. In light of these atrocities, it surely requires considerable courage for Al Jazeera journalists to place themselves in the line of Israeli fire.
Mr. el Okdi and his cameraman appear in the photograph below, along with Nada (second from left) and yours truly.
After saying goodbye to our colleagues from Al Jazeera, we drove up a hill on the outskirts of the town to get a better view of the valley below.
While Nada and I were on the Lebanon-Israel border today, Israeli forces shelled the Lebanese villages of Houla, to the south of Taybeh, and Kfarchouba, to the east of Marjaayoun. From that hill on the outskirts of Marjaayoun, we were able to see plumes of smoke rising up from Kfarchouba.
At that point, Nada received an alert that numerous Hezbollah fighters had been killed in the area. To avoid any intensification of clashes on the border, we decided to depart the area quickly and go to Taybeh, which is two kilometres from the border. There, I interviewed the Mayor of Taybeh about the risk of an expanded war in the region. That interview will be the subject of a separate report, which I shall publish on this website tomorrow.
The full video report of our visit to the Lebanon-Israel border can be seen here: