BEIRUT (AP) — Lebanon’s militant Hezbollah group said Monday it has started destroying surveillance cameras on several Israeli army posts along the border as tension rose following the outbreak of the Israel-Hamas war.
Hezbollah’s military media arm released a video showing snipers shooting at and destroying surveillance cameras placed on five points along the Lebanon-Israel border including one outside the Israeli town of Metula.
The militant group appears to want to prevent the Israeli army from monitoring movements on the Lebanese side of the border after days of fire exchange that left at least seven people dead, including four Hezbollah fighters, on the Lebanese side.
Since the Oct. 7 attack by the Palestinian militant Hamas group on southern Israel that killed more than 1,400 Israeli civilians and troops, tension has been on the rise along the Lebanon-Israel border. Hezbollah fighters fired anti-tank missiles on Israeli army positions and Israeli troops shelled border areas on the Lebanese side of the border.
Israel and Hezbollah are bitter enemies that fought a monthlong war in the summer of 2006. Israel considers the Iran-backed Shiite militant group its most serious immediate threat, estimating that Hezbollah has around 150,000 rockets and missiles aimed at Israel.
There are concerns that the powerful Iran-backed Hezbollah could join the war with Israel. Earlier this month, U.S. President Joe Biden warned other players in the Middle East not to join the conflict and has sent American warships to the region and vowed full support for Israel.
Hezbollah legislator Hassan Fadlallah said Sunday that the group is ready for all possibilities adding, “we don’t want to reveal what the next step is.” He said Hezbollah’s next step “is tied to what is going on in Gaza.”
France’s top diplomat Monday said the tense situation along the Lebanon-Israel border is “worrying and dangerous” and urged restraint, following meetings with caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati, Speaker Nabih Berri, and army chief Gen. Joseph Aoun.
“We are here to reaffirm our relationship and support to Lebanon and say it is unacceptable for any side or group to slide into war or what is happening in Gaza,” French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna said at a news conference at the French Embassy’s Pine Residence in Beirut.
Mikati’s office said in a statement following his meeting with Colonna that she endorsed an Egyptian proposal to hold a meeting of Arab leaders and permanent member states of the U.N. Security Council to find a solution to prevent an escalation in the war that has thus far killed thousands of Palestinians and Israelis.
“I am leaving the region, convinced that the vortex that threatens it can be avoided through cooperative and determined action,” Colonna said on X, formerly Twitter.
Mikati said the country’s politically-paralyzed government has been scrambling to ease tensions along its southern border with Israel and avoid dragging the tiny country into a new war. His press office said in a statement Monday that he has been holding calls with top officials and leaders from the United States, United Kingdom, France, Turkey, Qatar and a handful of other regional and international governments.
Earlier Monday, the Israeli military ordered people living in 28 communities near the Lebanese border to evacuate. The military order affects communities that are within two kilometers (1.2 miles) of the border.
Hezbollah has said the increased strikes were a warning and don’t mean the group has decided to go to war.
The World Health Organization said Monday it has sent two shipments of medical supplies to Beirut in preparation for potential escalation along the Lebanon-Israel border.