ICRC official describes Rafah as a ‘ghost town’

BEIRUT: Israel faced accusations of violating the rules of engagement on Saturday after a military drone attacked a car in the western Bekaa village of Khiara, killing the Lebanese driver.

Khiara, about 24 km from Shebaa Farms on the border and 58 km from Beirut, was targeted for the first time since the beginning of the conflict between Israel and Hezbollah.

A Lebanese security source said the drone strike on an SUV killed the driver, Ayman Ghotmeh, from Lala village in the Bekaa.

Reports from the Bekaa suggested the victim had ties to Hamas or was affiliated with a radical group allied to Hezbollah.

The Israeli military later said Ghotmeh was a commander of the Islamic Group in Lebanon and “was in charge of supplying weapons to Hamas.”

According to Israeli media, the military also targeted Hamas commander Raed Saad in a strike inside Gaza.

Israeli shells hit Khiam on the outskirts of Deir Mimas and Kfarkila on Saturday amid ongoing clashes with Hezbollah, while Israeli warplanes hit Yaroun with two air-to-ground missiles, with no casualties.

Hezbollah said it struck a building used by Israeli soldiers in the Manara settlement.

UNIFIL was also reported to be strengthening its military positions in the border area.

Candice Ardell, deputy director of the UNIFIL Media Office, said “international forces reject the use of UNIFIL locations or nearby areas to carry out attacks across the Blue Line.”

In an official statement, Ardell said: “Since October, we have witnessed many incidents targeting our locations and vehicles on both sides. In some situations, our peacekeepers sustained some injuries, which fortunately were not serious.

“We reiterate to all parties that targeting UN locations or using nearby areas to carry out attacks across the Blue Line is unacceptable and constitutes a violation” of UN Security Council Resolution 1701.

She added: “We have strong measures in place to ensure the safety and ability of peacekeepers to carry out their duties. This includes updating our buildings when necessary.”

UNIFIL’s reaction came as MP Hassan Ezzeddine, a member of the Hezbollah parliamentary bloc, said all “pressure and intimidation on Lebanon is aimed at pressure on the resistance”.

Ezzeddine said: “We faced threats and temptations, whose purpose was to give up our heavy weapons in favor of what we want in Lebanon, but we refused and continued on our way.

“The threats made by the enemy against Lebanon are to stop the front in the north of occupied Palestine, because this front, by the recognition of all, especially the leaders of the enemy, has a great influence in weakening them, crippling their capabilities and preventing them from defeating Gaza.”

Ezzeddine addressed “all those who work behind the scenes and openly to those delegations who come to Lebanon with various initiatives”, saying: “Don’t waste your time and efforts in Lebanon, because they are going in the wrong direction and don’t get tired. outside.

“There is only one way, and that is to go to the Israeli leaders and press them to stop the aggression on Gaza. Then all fronts will calm down.

“But if this enemy continues its aggression and expands the scope of this war, the resistance is poised to fight a battle that may ultimately be decisive.”

The Hezbollah MP’s statements came as Kuwait’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs advised all its citizens to avoid traveling to Lebanon due to security developments in the region.

The ministry asked “Kuwaiti citizens who are already in Lebanon, without pressing reasons to stay, to leave the country as soon as possible. Those who cannot leave should immediately contact the Embassy of Kuwait in Lebanon via the embassy’s emergency telephone number: 0096171171441.”

Kuwait Airways has announced an increase in the capacity of its aircraft heading to Beirut to accommodate passengers wishing to return to Kuwait.

In a statement on its X account, the airline said: “These measures come in coordination with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in light of the current circumstances in the region.”

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