Uptade PM Mikati continues efforts to keep war away from Lebanon

BEIRUT: Lebanon’s caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati said on Monday he hoped the situation on the country’s southern border with Israel would not deteriorate after five months of hostilities between Hezbollah and the Israeli forces.

“We are maintaining contact with all relevant parties locally and internationally to prevent war in Lebanon. Despite the suffering our country has endured, particularly in terms of the number of martyrs, we pay homage to their souls,” he said.

Mikati spoke after Israel dropped leaflets over the Wazzani border area using a drone on Monday, in which it attempted to incite residents against Hezbollah, holding it responsible for the fate of residents and their property.

“Hezbollah is endangering your lives, the lives of your families, and your homes, and its members and weapons are entering your residential areas. From your backyard at the expense of your family. Such a shame,” the leaflets said.

Texts circulated on social media warned that the leaflets fell within the framework of psychological warfare, showing fake concern for the interests of people while Israel commits crimes in Gaza and southern Lebanon.

The counter-campaign was followed by calls not to share the leaflets or circulate them on social media.

Meanwhile, a predominantly Christian private school in the Keserwan area in Mount Lebanon punished a nun who urged students to pray for the south and its youth.

Two days earlier, a widely circulated video showed Sister Maya Ziadeh addressing the school’s students in the playground, in which she reportedly said: “In the south, there are students your age who say they have no dreams other than liberating their land.

“Today, we will pray for the south, for the children of the south, for the people of the south, for the mothers of the south, and the men of the resistance because they are men from Lebanon, and they toil to protect this homeland.”

She added: “If we do not pray for them or love them regardless of what we think, then we are traitors to our land, our homeland, and every book we read.

“We pray for the protection of our youth and homeland because it is going through a difficult ordeal, and nothing but love and solidarity strengthens us.”

The video led to widespread criticism by Christians from Keserwan, who wrote on the platform X and called for the nun to be punished.

A parent of one student later announced that the school administration decided to “ban the nun from teaching and transfer her from the school to another place.”

On Monday, a political group opposing Hezbollah — Our Lady of the Mountain — accused the Lebanese authorities of “putting the people of the south in the eye of the storm of the killing, destruction, and displacement by fully and openly supporting the Hezbollah militia in its declared and ongoing war only to support Gaza.”

The group asked in a statement: “By what legitimate authority does Hezbollah give itself the right to decide war and peace, putting all Lebanon and the Lebanese at risk of death and destruction?

“Isn’t this a decision that the parliament and the Lebanese government take? Where do these presidents, ministers, and deputies stand on all that is happening?”

The statement came as Hezbollah carried out several military operations against Israeli military sites on Monday, including an aerial attack with four drones on the Israeli air and missile defense headquarters at Keila barracks. The Jal Al-Alam site and a gathering of Israeli soldiers in Al-Tayhat Hill have also been targeted.

Israeli attacks continued around the Lebanese border areas, and a house was targeted on the outskirts of the town of Jebbayn. Israel claimed that the house was a “Hezbollah military site.”

The National News Agency reported that an Israeli drone fell due to a technical malfunction in the outskirts of the town of Halta in the Hasbaya district.

Hezbollah, meanwhile, said one of its members, Ali Mohammed Zein, from the town of Sohmor in the Western Bekaa, had died.

Al-Fajr Forces also mourned the deaths of three members — Mohammed Riyad Moheyiddine from Beirut, Dr. Hussein Hilal Darwish from Shhim in Iqlim Al-Kharroub, and Mohammed Jamal Ibrahim from Habbariyeh — who were killed on Sunday in Habbariyeh, in the Aarkoub area, when their car was targeted by an Israeli drone.

The group had previously announced it was “launching operations against the Israeli occupation, against the backdrop of the Israeli aggression on Gaza.” Its military activity was limited to the Sunni-dominated Aarkoub area on the outskirts of Shebaa and Kfarshouba, and it previously lost two members when Israel targeted Hamas offices in a building in the southern suburb of Beirut in early January, killing Hamas leader Saleh Al-Arouri.

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