ISRAEL AT WAR - DAY 142

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Hezbollah commits to abiding by truce, though it wasn’t party to negotiations

Lebanese terror group source says it will honor 4-day ceasefire, as Iran FM lands in Beirut; Netanyahu: No truce deal on northern border, Hezbollah will be judged by its actions

Gianluca Pacchiani is the Arab affairs reporter for The Times of Israel

Supporters of Iranian-backed Hezbollah raise their fists and cheer as leader Hassan Nasrallah appears via a video link during a rally in Beirut, Lebanon, November 3, 2023. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)
Supporters of Iranian-backed Hezbollah raise their fists and cheer as leader Hassan Nasrallah appears via a video link during a rally in Beirut, Lebanon, November 3, 2023. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)

Hezbollah announced on Wednesday that it will participate in the four-day truce between Israel and the Hamas terror group that is set to begin on Thursday morning, even though it was not part of the negotiations between Israel and Hamas.

A source from Hezbollah told Al Jazeera that the group will adhere to the halt as long as Israel respects the agreement. However, the Lebanese terror group will respond to any Israeli “escalation” in southern Lebanon or Gaza during the truce, the source added.

In comments later Wednesday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel had made no truce commitments regarding the northern border, and that Hezbollah would be judged “by its actions” rather than anything it said.

The Hezbollah source insisted that the group was not part of the negotiations between Israel and Hamas that led to the pause in hostilities, as well as the agreement to exchange Israeli hostages held in Gaza for Palestinian prisoners.

The agreement stipulates that Hamas will release 50 Israeli hostages who were abducted and taken into Gaza during the terror group’s October 7 terror onslaught, all of them children and women. Some 240 hostages are being held overall. The hostages will be released in groups of 12-13 people over four days.

In exchange, Israel has agreed to a truce for those four days, for the first time since the outbreak of the war, as well as the release of 150 teenage and female Palestinian security prisoners. The halt in fighting could be extended by one additional day for each additional group of 10 Israeli hostages freed, after which Israel’s campaign to destroy Hamas in Gaza is to resume.

Hamas declared that while it had agreed to a truce, “our fingers will remain on the trigger, and our victorious fighters will remain on the lookout to defend our people and repel the occupation.”

Families and friends of about 240 hostages held by Hamas in Gaza call for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to bring them home during a demonstration in Tel Aviv on November 21, 2023. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)

The Hezbollah announcement came as Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian arrived in Beirut on an official visit, during which he was scheduled to meet several Lebanese officials. It has not been announced whether he will also meet with Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah, or leaders of Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad who reside in Lebanon, such as Saleh al-Arouri and Ziad Nakhaleh.

Iran is the main state sponsor of all three terror groups, and has been providing them with financial and military aid over the past years, in its declared effort to annihilate Israel.

In a short speech that Abdollahian gave at Beirut airport upon his arrival, he said that “six weeks of heroic Palestinian resistance have proven to global public opinion that America and the Zionist entity [i.e., Israel] are the definitive losers of the war.”

Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian at a press conference at Beirut airport during a visit to Lebanon, November 22, 2023 (from the website of Hezbollah’s media outlet Al Manar)

Hezbollah, together with Hamas and other terror groups in southern Lebanon, has routinely fired rockets at Israeli cities and attacked IDF soldiers and Israeli civilians on the Israel-Lebanon border since Hamas’s October 7 atrocities, resulting in a number of fatalities. The IDF has attacked Hezbollah operatives and positions in response, killing dozens of the group’s fighters. Hezbollah announced on Wednesday the death of its 79th fighter killed since the war’s outbreak.

Foreign Minister Eli Cohen reportedly warned the UN Security Council that a regional war is likely if its 2006 resolution calling for the disarmament of Hezbollah is not fully implemented. The resolution was adopted to bring an end to the Second Lebanon war and stipulated a withdrawal of all non-state armed forces from the border region with Israel, but was never implemented.

The Lebanese terror group claims to have tens of thousands of fighters and possesses a reported arsenal of some 150,000 rockets and missiles of different types.

Hezbollah chief Nasrallah declared in two speeches he made over the past month that his terror group joined the fighting to divert Israeli forces from Gaza to the Lebanese front. Hezbollah stopped short of announcing a full-fledged participation in the conflict on the side of Hamas. He also asserted that neither Hezbollah nor Iran knew in advance about Hamas’s October 7 plans.

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