Expert downplays prospect of wider escalation after Hezbollah commander's killing


Britain-based Middle East specialist Amal Saad on Wednesday played down the prospect of wider escalation between Hezbollah and Israel following the latter’s assassination of a senior Hezbollah commander in south Lebanon a day earlier.

"I don't think that the death of this highest-ranking commander is going to change any of Hezbollah's calculations," Saad said, explaining that civilian casualties were "red lines" for the group rather than the targeting of commanders or fighters.

"We witnessed an escalation in quality and quantity of (Hezbollah) attacks in order to put pressure on Israel and the U.S. in the ceasefire talks and improve Hamas' bargaining position," Saad added.

Hezbollah fired successive barrages of rockets at northern Israel on Wednesday in retaliation to Abdallah’s killing, targeting several key bases. The targets included a military base deep in north Israel and a military factory.

Hezbollah, a Hamas ally, has traded near-daily fire with Israeli forces since the Gaza war began, triggered by Hamas' October 7 attack.

Exchanges of fire between Hezbollah and Israeli forces have intensified over recent days, causing multiple brush fires on both sides of the border.

More than eight months of cross-border violence have killed at least 467 people in Lebanon, including almost 90 civilians and at least 304 Hezbollah fighters, according to an AFP count.

Israeli authorities say at least 15 Israeli soldiers and 11 civilians have been killed in the fighting.

Tens of thousands of people have been displaced.

Last week, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that Israel was "prepared for a very intense operation" along the border with Lebanon and that "one way or another, we will restore security to the north."

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