11:13 GMT29 November 2020
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    Simmering tensions between Tel Aviv and the Lebanon-based militant and political organisation escalated last week after Israeli troops launched operation 'Northern Shield', aimed at destroying suspected Hezbollah tunnels used to funnel militants and arms through the Israel-Lebanon border.

    Hezbollah is capable of targeting any point in Israel with its missiles, the group's second in command Sheikh Naim Qassem said in an interview with Iran's al-Vefagh newspaper.

    "There is not a single point in the occupied territories out of reach of Hezbollah's missiles," Qassem said.

    According to the senior official, the missiles serve to deter Israel from starting another war with Lebanon by exposing the "Israeli home front".

    Qassem also commented on the war in Syria, where Hezbollah has played an active role in assisting the Syrian government against a collection of jihadist militants including Daesh (ISIS)* and Nusra Front.* The official praised the victories achieved against the terrorists, but slammed the US for its alleged obstruction of the peace process.

    Tensions between Tel Aviv and Beirut escalated in recent months after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned that Israel would not let Hezbollah and Iran "get away with" the alleged stationing of precision missiles in Lebanon, including around Beirut's international airport.

    Last week, Hezbollah published a propaganda video warning Israel against launching missiles at Lebanon in the wake of an unsuccessful alleged Israeli attack on Syria.

    Israel invaded Lebanon in 2006 in response to a cross-border raid by Hezbollah and the abduction of two Israeli soldiers. The conflict, which lasted 34 days and claimed the lives of over 1,300 people, was halted by a UN-brokered ceasefire.

    Relations between Israel and Lebanon bottomed out again earlier this year, with officials from both countries openly talking about the possibility of military conflict. Long-standing Israeli plans to build a wall along Lebanon's southern border, Tel Aviv's ongoing occupation of Lebanon's Shebaa Farms since the 1967 Arab-Israeli War, disagreement over a gas field in the eastern Mediterranean Sea, and Israeli suspicions that Iran is using Hezbollah as a proxy to wage war on Israel have all played a role in the poor state of relations.

    *Terrorist groups outlawed in Russia and many other countries.


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    missiles, Hezbollah, Naim Qassem, Israel
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