BEIRUT: The Israeli army expanded its targeting area in southern Lebanon on Sunday.
Its belt of fire crossed the forests and points it claimed were Hezbollah’s regions, bombing buildings and residential homes with airstrikes, leveling a residential neighborhood in the town of Aitaroun, and targeting a watchtower used by the UN Interim Force in Lebanon.
The Israeli army also repeated attacks on Lebanese army positions.
The Israeli offensive and the air operations on Sunday were the most violent carried out in southern Lebanon since Oct. 8.
Hezbollah attacked the Israeli army’s Yara site, which is 2 km from the border with Lebanon, and later announced that “direct hits had been achieved.”
The Iran-backed group also targeted the sites of Zibdin and Ruwaisat Al-Alam in the Kfar Shuba hills near Shebaa Farms with Burkan missiles, according to a statement.
It also targeted “a gathering of Israeli enemy soldiers between the sites of Zabdin and Ramtha.”
Hezbollah announced that it had destroyed “a barricade of Israeli enemy soldiers in the Al-Abbad site, inflicting confirmed casualties there,” and later targeted “a gathering of soldiers in Honin Castle.”
It added that the Barkat Risha site “was bombed with Burkan missiles.”
The Izz Al-Din Al-Qassam Brigades — the military wing of Hamas — announced “the bombardment of Israeli military sites in Liman and Khirbet Maar … with rocket salvoes.”
Meanwhile, the Israeli army announced that it had shot down “two suspicious air targets” near the border with Lebanon on Sunday morning.
UNIFIL spokesperson Andrea Tenenti said: “A watchtower inside the UNIFIL site near the Ebel Al-Qamh area in the UNIFIL area of operations in southern Lebanon was subjected to bombing, which led to damage to the structure of the tower. Fortunately, no one was injured.
“Any targeting of UNIFIL sites and any use of the area adjacent to our sites to launch attacks across the Blue Line is unacceptable, as attacks against civilians or UN personnel constitute violations of international law.”
The Israeli army said that warplanes had carried out massive raids “against Hezbollah targets in Lebanon, including infrastructure, rocket launchers, and military sites,” and that it had attacked “an armed cell that attempted to launch an anti-armor shell toward an Israeli site near Zarit.”
Local media reports spoke of the destruction of an entire neighborhood in the border town of Aitaroun, in which four people were injured and “where many homes were flattened, and a large number of others were damaged.”
A UNIFIL spokesman said: “After more than two months of active bombing along the Blue Line, the possibility of an error in judgment that could lead to a broader conflict is increasing.
“Restoring stability through diplomatic channels is a priority to ensure the safety of all civilians living near the Blue Line, as well as the safety of peacekeepers.
“UNIFIL’s priority remains focused on preventing escalation, protecting civilian lives, and ensuring the safety and security of peacekeepers.”