Israel-Hamas war: Hezbollah chief will speak out

Israel-Hamas war: Hezbollah chief will speak outIn a speech that could have an impact on the region as the Gaza battle rages, Lebanon's leading Hezbollah figure, Hassan Nasrallah, will break weeks of silence since war broke out between Hamas and Israel on Friday.

Fears of a larger conflict have been heightened by the extraordinary October 7 attack on Israel by Hamas militants from the Gaza Strip, which resulted in an increase in tit-for-tat exchanges along Lebanon's southern border, mostly between Israel and Hezbollah, a Palestinian group ally.

The group claims that on Thursday, the cross-border strikes intensified when Israel launched a "broad assault" in retaliation for Hezbollah's simultaneous attacks on 19 Israeli locations.

The Lebanese branch of Hamas's armed wing claimed responsibility for the rocket fire that also struck the Israeli settlement of Kiryat Shmona close to the border.

If Israel does not cease its attacks on Gaza, Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian has issued a dire warning, saying that "the region is like a powder keg" and that "anything is possible."

In addition to warning Hezbollah and other parties to keep out of the crisis, US President Joe Biden dispatched two aircraft carrier groups to the eastern Mediterranean.

According to US National Security Council spokesman John Kirby, "there are major national security interests at play here."

"I don't think there has been any concrete sign that Hezbollah is prepared to move with all of its might thus far. Thus, we'll wait to hear from him.

At 3:00 pm (1300 GMT) on Friday, Nasrallah's much awaited address will be aired as part of an event in the southern suburbs of Beirut, a bastion of Hezbollah, in honor of fighters slain in Israeli bombardments.

Before the speech, supporters started to assemble in the vicinity to wave the Iranian, Palestinian, Lebanese, and Hezbollah flags, according to an AFP photographer.

"Red line" elements:

According to an AFP count, 72 people have died on the Lebanese side, including at least 54 Hezbollah fighters as well as other combatants, civilians, and one Reuters journalist.

According to the Israeli army, at least six troops and one civilian have died.

Richard Hecht, an Israeli military spokesperson, issued a warning, saying that while "it wouldn't be in his (Nasrallah's) interest right now to escalate in the north," "our response will be very, very severe" if it did.


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