Hezbollah’s Deputy Secretary-General, Naim Qassem, reaffirmed on Friday the readiness of his party to act in support of the Palestinians in Gaza, stating that they are prepared to take action whenever the time is right, amidst the ongoing war between Israel and Hamas. Meanwhile, the Israeli army declared the town of Metoula, on the Lebanese-Israeli border, a “closed military area,” raising concerns about a potential new front that could further complicate the situation in the region.
Qassem, speaking during a Hezbollah-organized demonstration in its stronghold in the southern suburbs of Beirut, stated, “We, as Hezbollah, contribute to the confrontation, and we will contribute to it within our vision and plan. We monitor the enemy’s steps, and we are fully prepared, and when the time is right for any action, we will take it.”
He added, “Hezbollah knows its duties very well, and we are ready and fully prepared. We follow moment by moment,” clarifying, “The behind-the-scenes contacts that have been made with us by major countries, Arab states, and United Nations envoys, requesting that we not engage in the battle, will not impact us.”
More than a thousand people participated in the demonstration organized by Hezbollah, carrying Palestinian flags, party banners, and signs that read “Here, Gaza, at your service.” Some chanted, “Ya Nasrallah (Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah), our beloved, strike Tel Aviv.”
Amid this, the Israeli army declared in a statement on Friday that Metoula is a “closed military area,” stating, “Following an assessment of the situation, it was decided to declare Metoula a closed military area.” The Israeli army made it clear that entry into the area is strictly prohibited and asked the public to exercise caution and avoid entering the area.
Israeli military sources said the decision came “following disturbances witnessed in the border area near Metoula” in recent days on the Lebanese border. They added that this step was taken as a precautionary measure based on the situation’s evaluation.
Hamas initiated “Operation Al-Aqsa” on October 7th, during which its fighters infiltrated Israeli areas while simultaneously launching thousands of rockets towards Israel.
Israel responded with intensive airstrikes on the Gaza Strip. On Friday, the Israeli army dropped leaflets urging residents in Gaza City to evacuate their homes immediately, according to AFP correspondents.
Since the onset of the conflict, over 1,300 people have been killed in Israel, with most of them being civilians. The number of wounded has reached 3,297, and the army reported that around 150 Israelis have been taken hostage. In Gaza, 1,537 people have been killed, including 500 children, and over 6,600 have been injured due to Israeli airstrikes.
To date, Hezbollah, Lebanon’s prominent political and military party, has limited its involvement in the war. However, analysts believe it might be forced to open a new front if Israel launches a ground offensive against Gaza.
Since Sunday, Israel has been responding to almost daily rocket attacks from southern Lebanon, initiated by Hezbollah targeting its locations in a disputed border area.
On Wednesday, Hezbollah claimed responsibility for firing guided missiles towards an Israeli military site in response to the killing of three of its members. From southern Lebanon, the Islamic Jihad Movement adopted an infiltration operation across the border, which Israel confronted. Meanwhile, Hamas claimed responsibility for launching rockets.
Despite the exchange of fire, the direct involvement of Hezbollah remains limited. There is a delicate balance of deterrence between the two sides since their destructive war in July 2006, which resulted in over 1,200 deaths on the Lebanese side, mainly civilians, and 160 deaths on the Israeli side, mostly military personnel.