BEIRUT: Calm returned to Lebanon’s southern border today as a temporary truce took effect in the war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza, according to state media, residents and an AFP journalist.
Since the Gaza war erupted on Oct 7, Lebanon’s southern border with Israel has witnessed deadly exchanges of fire, primarily involving the Israeli army and Lebanon’s Hezbollah movement, as well as Palestinian rebel groups.
Hezbollah has yet to say whether it will comply with the terms of the agreement that was brokered by Qatar with help from Egypt and the US.
“A precarious calm reigned on the southern border, with the humanitarian truce in Gaza coming into effect at 7am,” Lebanon’s official National News Agency reported.
The four-day truce in the Gaza Strip will see Hamas exchange 50 hostages seized from Israel during the Oct 7 attacks for 150 Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails.
An AFP journalist in the Marjayoun border region said he had heard exchanges of fire 10 minutes prior to the truce, before the guns fell silent.
A resident in the Alma Al-Shaab border region also said the situation was calm and that he could no longer hear Israeli planes or reconnaissance drones flying overhead.
On the eve of the truce, Hezbollah had intensified its cross-border attacks on the Israeli army, which in response pounded southern Lebanon.
Today, the powerful Iran-backed Shi’ite group claimed responsibility for 22 attacks on Israeli positions from southern Lebanon, where it lost seven of its fighters during the day.
Hezbollah says it has been acting in support of Hamas since the Palestinian Islamist movement’s Oct 7 attacks on Israel, which Israeli officials say killed 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and saw about 240 people taken hostage.
Israel has vowed to destroy Hamas and its retaliatory air and ground offensive in the Gaza Strip has killed nearly 15,000 people, thousands of them children, according to the Hamas government of the Palestinian territory.
The cross-border clashes between Israel and Hezbollah have claimed 109 lives in Lebanon, at least 77 of them Hezbollah fighters and 14 civilians, according to an AFP count.
Among those killed were three journalists, the son of the head of Hezbollah’s parliamentary bloc and an official from Hamas’ military wing in Lebanon.
On the Israeli side, six soldiers and three civilians have been killed, according to the Israeli authorities.