Mikati visits South, says Lebanon committed to 1701
Caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati made a surprise visit Tuesday to restive south Lebanon, whose border area has been witnessing deadly clashes between Israel and Hezbollah for the past 16 days amid Israel’s war on Hamas in the Gaza Strip.
“We came to our dear South -- which is paying the price of its defense of the entire country in the face of a usurper and merciless entity -- to stress Lebanon’s respect for the international legitimacy resolutions and commitment to U.N. Security Council Resolution 1701,” Mikati said during the visit.
While in the South, the premier inspected Lebanese Army troops and UNIFIL forces, accompanied by Army Commander General Joseph Aoun.
Stressing his “deep appreciation of the army’s sacrifices in defense of Lebanon,” Mikati also emphasized “UNIFIL’s role in preserving the South’s stability in cooperation and full coordination with the army.”
“In these difficult circumstances, we came to the South to salute the army and express our appreciation of its efforts and sacrifices in defence of the country, land and people,” Mikati added.
“Our choice is peace and our culture is a culture of peace based on right, justice, international law and the U.N. resolutions,” he said.
The visit by Mikati to the tense southern province was his first since clashes erupted along the border following a surprise attack by the Palestinian group Hamas on Israel on Oct. 7. It also came two days after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited troops along the border on Sunday.
Mikati and international governments have been scrambling to prevent the Israel-Hamas war from expanding to Lebanon, where the powerful Hezbollah group warned Israel about a ground incursion into the blockaded Gaza Strip.
Hezbollah deputy leader Sheikh Naim Qassem said the group is in the "heart" of the war to "defend Gaza and confront the occupation."
"Its finger is on the trigger to whatever extent it deems necessary for the confrontation," Kassem tweeted.