BEIRUT (AP) — The leader of Lebanon’s Hezbollah group held talks Wednesday with senior Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad officials as part of a key three-way meeting leading anti-Israel militant groups amid the war raging in Gaza.
A brief statement following the meeting said Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah had agreed with Hamas’ Saleh al-Arouri and Islamic Jihad leader Ziad al-Nakhleh on next steps that the three would take together with other Iranian-backed militants – should take action on this “sensitive stage.”
Their goal, according to the statement carried in the Hezbollah-run and Lebanese state media, was to achieve “a real victory for the resistance in Gaza and Palestine” and to end Israel’s “insidious and brutal aggression against our oppressed and steadfast people.” in Gaza and the West Bank.
No further details were disclosed. The discussions in Beirut came as the war between Israel and Hamas, the Palestinian militant group that rules the Gaza Strip, now enters its third week. The fights triggered by Hamas’ deadly invasion of Israel on October 7th In which more than 1,400 people were killed in Israel, more than 5,700 Palestinians were killed in Gaza.
As the death toll rises in Gaza, Tensions are also increasing on the tense Lebanese-Israeli borderwhere Hezbollah members have been engaged in firefights with Israeli troops since the day after Hamas’s rampage in Israel.
For now, these exchanges remain limited to a handful of border towns and Hezbollah and Israeli military positions on both sides. Lebanese army soldiers and United Nations peacekeepers are deployed in large numbers.
Dozens of Hezbollah fighters have been killed in the clashes so far, the group said, while the Israeli military also announced some deaths within its ranks.
Nasrallah has not yet spoken publicly about the war in Gaza and clashes along the Lebanese-Israeli border. However, other senior Hezbollah officials have warned Israel against the planned ground invasion of the besieged area.
Israeli officials said they would retaliate aggressively in the event of a cross-border attack by Hezbollah from Lebanon.
“We will cripple it with a force that cannot even be imagined, and the consequences for it and the Lebanese state will be devastating,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday as he visited Israeli troops along the border with Lebanon .
Lebanon’s cash-strapped interim government, along with regional and international figures, is fighting to keep the country out of the war.
Hezbollah and Israel fought a months-long war in 2006 that ended in a tense stalemate. Israel considers Iran-backed Hezbollah its biggest threat and estimates it has aimed about 150,000 rockets and missiles at Israel.