Live Updates: Israeli Strike Kills Dozens at Former School Where Civilians Were Sheltering


Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel on Wednesday threatened further military action against Hezbollah in Lebanon, amid growing talk of another full-scale war, even as Israel fights Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

Two days after Hezbollah militants launched a barrage of rockets and exploding drones from Lebanon into northern Israel, igniting several wildfires, Mr. Netanyahu visited soldiers and firefighters in the area, and said the Israeli military was ready to strike.

“Whoever thinks he can hurt us and we will respond by sitting on our hands is making a big mistake,” he said, according to the Israeli government. “We are prepared for very intense action in the north. One way or another, we will restore security to the north.”

Other Israeli officials have threatened war in Lebanon against Hezbollah, which has stepped up attacks on northern Israel since the war between Israel and Hamas began in October. But the bellicose talk carries more weight coming from the highest levels — not only the prime minister but the military chief of staff and a cabinet minister.

Israeli forces and Hezbollah, an Iranian-backed militia and political faction that exercises de facto control over southern Lebanon, have been exchanging strikes for months, forcing more than 150,000 people on both sides of the border to flee.

On Monday, the Lebanese television network Al Manar, which is controlled by Hezbollah, said the group had fired at Israeli soldiers in several locations close to the border, starting fires, and claimed to have inflicted casualties.

One of the most intense fires threatened homes in the Israeli town of Kiryat Shmona, near the Lebanese border, according to Israeli news outlets. That city, like much of the Israeli border area, has been largely evacuated for months, and no casualties were reported.

On Wednesday, Hezbollah claimed responsibility for another drone attack in the region. The Israeli military said that two drones landed in the area of Hurfeish, a Druse village whose citizens are primarily part of an Arab-Israeli minority in Israel. At least 11 people were reported injured, one critically. No sirens sounded warning of the attack, according to the Israeli military, which said it was reviewing the incident.

Such strikes — and threats of more direct military action — have raised concerns about the prospect of Israel waging war on two fronts.

On Wednesday, Matthew Miller, a State Department spokesman, said that the Biden administration remained “incredibly concerned” about the risk of escalation between Israel and Hezbollah.

“That said, the government of Israel has long maintained — privately to us, and they’ve said it publicly, too — that their preferred solution to this conflict is a diplomatic one, and we continue to pursue a diplomatic resolution,” Mr. Miller said.

The Biden administration has held talks with Israel and Lebanon, exchanging messages with Hezbollah through intermediaries. The talks are aimed at moving Hezbollah forces away from the border, according to Lebanese and Israeli officials, and other participants.

But Hezbollah has said repeatedly that it will not negotiate until the war in Gaza ends, and Israeli military officials have said this week that they are growing increasingly frustrated with Hezbollah’s attacks.

“We are approaching the point in which a decision needs to be made, and the I.D.F. is ready and prepared for that decision,” Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi, the Israeli military’s chief of staff, said on Tuesday.

Far-right leaders in Israel have been calling for war against Hezbollah in Lebanon. “The time has come,” Bezalel Smotrich, Israel’s finance minister, said on social media on Wednesday. “There is full backing from the entire people of Israel.”

Israel invaded Lebanon in 1978, 1982 and 2006 in attempts to root out armed militants who launched attacks into Israel.

Adam Rasgon and Ephrat Livni contributed reporting.



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