Israel evacuates 14 communities in north amid Hezbollah threat

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On Sunday, Israel evacuated 14 additional communities near the northern border in response to increasing threats by Hezbollah. Hezbollah has been carrying out attacks using anti-tank missiles, rockets, mortars, and small arms fire in the last two weeks. Israel evacuated 28 communities on October 16 and last week it also announced the evacuation of the city of Kiryat Shmona. Hundreds of thousands of Israelis have been affected by the evacuations and the murderous attack on October 7 that led to the massacre of 1,400 people and the devastation of communities near Gaza. 

In a joint Defense Ministry and IDF announcement, the National Emergency Management Authority (NEMA) of the Defense Ministry and the IDF said they “are announcing the expansion of the state-funded evacuation plan to additional communities in northern Israel.”

An explosion is seen at what the Islamic Resistance said was an Israeli military site near the Israel-Lebanon border in this screengrab obtained from a social media video by Reuters on October 19, 2023 (Islamic Resistance/Handout via REUTERS)

The message said that “in addition of the communities was approved by Defense Minister Yoav Gallant. A short while ago, the Northern Command updated the heads of the local authorities on the decision. The plan will be implemented by the heads of the local municipalities, the Ministry of Interior, and the National Emergency Management Authority (NEMA) of the Defense Ministry.” 

The 14 communities that are being evacuated on Sunday include Snir, Dan, Beit Hillel, She’ar Yashuv, Hagoshrim, Liman, Matzuva, Eylon, Goren, Gornot HaGalil, Even Menachem, Sasa, Tziv’on and Ramot Naftali. This is in addition to the 28 that were already evacuated due to their proximity to the border. The 28 included Ghajar, Dishon, Kfar Yuval, Margaliot, Metula, Avivim, Dovev, Ma’ayan Baruch, Bara’m, Manara, Yiftach, Malkia, Misgav Am, Yir’on, Dafna, Arab al-Aramshe, Shlomi, Netu’a, Ya’ara, Shtula, Matat, Zari’t, Shomera, Betzet, Adamit, Rosh HaNikram, Hanita and Kfar Giladi. 

These communities include Jewish and Arab communities. Arab al-Aramshe for instance is a Bedouin community and Ghajar is an Alewite community. The evacuations also affect foreign workers who work in many of these communities. The attacks from Hezbollah have killed and wounded residents of the border. A soldier was killed yesterday and two foreign workers were injured in an attack over the weekend.  

The north has seen a major increase in Hezbollah threats in the last week. This has included frequent use of anti-tank missiles on a daily basis and also other types of attacks. The IDF said overnight that a rocket was launched toward an IDF UAV in the area of the border with Lebanon. “The IDF Aerial Defense Array intercepted the rocket, and the aircraft was not damaged. In response, IDF aircraft struck the military compound from which the rocket was launched.” The IDF also said that “IDF fighter jets struck Hezbollah military infrastructure and observation equipment.” In addition “IDF soldiers identified a terrorist cell attempting to launch anti-tank missiles toward the Avivim area along the border with Lebanon. IDF soldiers struck the cell before it was able to carry out the attack.” 

Evacuation of border communities has become a new method in this multi-front conflict. Israel had already evacuated the 20 communities by the Gaza Strip, many of them devastated in the October 7 massacre. In addition, Sderot was evacuated in the first week. Many residents of Netivot and Ashkelon have also left due to the constant rocket fire. The overall number of people evacuated is not clear, but it could be between 100,000 and 200,000 people affected. 

Read More: Israel evacuates 14 communities in north amid Hezbollah threat

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