2024April 2024International News

French Diplomats Arrive in Lebanon to Halt Hezbollah-Israel Clashes

Sofia A. Diaz 

Staff Writer 

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Stéphane Séjourné, the Prime Minister of France, ventured to Lebanon on Sunday, increasing diplomatic efforts to prevent a war between Israel and Lebanon’s political party and militant group, Hezbollah. As escalations increased at the border of the two countries after the start of the Israel-Hamas conflict, world leaders are fearful of a full-scale war between Israel and Hezbollah.

Séjourné arrived in south Lebanon and met with United Nations (UN) peacekeepers, the Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati, the army chief, and the parliamentary speaker. The French leader reported to The Associated Press, stating that France “is refusing to accept the worst-case scenario” of a full-scale war between Israel and Lebanon, and further informed journalists how “In southern Lebanon, the war is already here, even if it’s not called by that name, and it’s the civilian population who’s paying the price.” 

Since the beginning of the escalation in the Israel-Hamas conflict on October 7, 2023, Hezbollah and Israel have been engaging in directing air strikes towards one another in the border region. However, Reuters reports that the commotion has seen an even larger increase ever since Iran launched missiles at Israel in retaliation for the strike on the Iranian Consulate in Damascus on April 1 over the suspicion of the missiles being directed by Israeli forces. 

Amongst the exchange of missiles, strikes sent from Israeli forces have killed more than 350 people in Lebanon, including many Hezbollah militants and their allied groups. This death toll also also includes more than 50 civilians, says ABC News. Conversely, Hezbollah strikes have killed at least 10 civilians and 12 Israeli soldiers. 

As a result, western diplomats formulated proposals to de-escalate the conflict. According to The Associated Press, many of the proposals offered would be directed towards Hezbollah, advising the translocation of their forces several kilometers away from the border. Leaders also proposed an increased Lebanese Army presence focusing on negotiating the withdrawal of Israeli forces from disputed points along the border, which Lebanon has claimed Israel to have been occupying small portions of their territory since 2000. 

Hezbollah has reported its willingness to adhere to the proposals offered.  However, its also stated that there will be no negotiation in Lebanon until a ceasefire is reached in Gaza, says ABC News. Until a ceasefire is reached, Hezbollah will continue to reject a complete withdrawal from the border. On the contrary, Israeli officials disclosed that even if a ceasefire is achieved in Gaza, its strikes on Lebanon will not stop. 

World leaders are concerned about the likely probability of a full-scale war between Hezbollah and Israel, similar to the month-long war in 2006. Another source from The Associated Press reports that Israeli military and political leaders have warned Hezbollah that an official war is increasingly probable if their militants do not withdraw from the border. The leader of Hezbollah, Hassan Nasrallah, has not threatened to initiate a war, but he has announced Hezbollah’s intention to “fight without limits” if Israel declares one. 

Although both sides are seemingly preparing for a worst-case scenario, neither Hezbollah nor Israel are economically prepared for such a war. In recent years, Lebanon has faced an economic crisis due to the number of refugees they host. Lebanon hosts and shelters many Syrian and Palestinian refugees. ,  According to ABC News, there are more than 1 million Syrian refugees alone. As a result, both the healthcare systems and public institutions have been compromised. 

Israel, on the other hand, has suffered economically from the ongoing war in Gaza. The Associated Press reports that the war is expected to cost over 50 billion dollars, which is the equivalent of about 10 percent of national economic activity through the end of 2024, according to the Bank of Israel. 

Tens of thousands of civilians have been reported to be displaced on both sides of this conflict. In Israel alone, approximately 60,000 residents were evacuated from towns closest to the border. According to France 24, Séjourné recapitulated that Paris remains dedicated to increasing diplomatic measures with the hopes of preventing a full-scale war that neither country can endure. World leaders will be keeping a close eye on this conflict’s progression and will be collectively and strategically dedicated to implementing the list of proposals, with the hopes of coming to a resolution.

Image courtesy of Getty Images

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