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The Latest | Hezbollah says its intensified attacks show Israel that all-out war would be costly


The Lebanese militant group Hezbollah says its intensified attacks along Israel’s northern border this week demonstrate to Israeli leaders that an all-out war would be costly, senior official Sheikh Ali Daamoush said in a sermon during Friday prayers.

Iran-backed Hezbollah militants launched dozens of rockets Friday in a third day of retaliation for the killing of a senior commander. The Israeli military said approximately 35 projectiles were identified.

Cross-border attacks by Israel and Hezbollah have been taking place almost daily since the war in Gaza began in October. The escalation comes as some Israeli leaders have threatened all-out war to silence Hezbollah’s rocket fire, and as the militant group seeks to pressure Israel during the cease-fire negotiations in support of its Palestinian ally Hamas.

U.S. President Joe Biden said Thursday he doesn’t expect to seal a Gaza cease-fire deal in the near future, as an American-backed proposal with global support has not been fully embraced by Israel or Hamas.

Israel’s war against Hamas in Gaza has killed more than 37,100 people, according to Gaza’s Health Ministry, which does not distinguish between combatants and civilians in its count. Palestinians are facing widespread hunger because the war has largely cut off the flow of food, medicine and other supplies. U.N. agencies say over 1 million in Gaza could experience the highest level of starvation by mid-July.

Israel launched the war after Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack, in which militants stormed into southern Israel, killed some 1,200 people — mostly civilians — and abducted about 250.

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Follow AP’s coverage of the war in Gaza at https://apnews.com/hub/israel-hamas-war

Here’s the latest:

JERUSALEM — Israel will not join a trilateral effort to stem fighting with Lebanon’s Hezbollah militant group proposed by France’s president, Israel’s defense minister said Friday.

“As we fight a just war, defending our people, France has adopted hostile policies against Israel,” Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said in a statement from his office rejecting the French proposal.

French President Emmanuel Macron mentioned the effort Thursday on the sidelines of the G7 conference in Italy. He said France, the U.S. and Israel had agreed to work jointly towards quelling tensions between Hezbollah and Israel, who have exchanged cross-border fire nearly every day since the war in Gaza began in early October.

“We have agreed on the principle of a trilateral between Israel, the United States, and France to advance the roadmap we have proposed,” said Macron.

Gallant’s rejection of the French proposal was criticized by senior officials in Israel’s Foreign Ministry in a rare public spat.

“We disapprove of Minister of Defense Gallant’s attacks on France,” the officials wrote Friday. They said France had supported Israel in many ways over the course of the war — by assisting Israeli defenses against an Iranian missile attack in April, by sanctioning Hamas and Iran, and by fighting antisemitism domestically.

Tensions are escalating dramatically on Israel’s northern border over the last few after an Israeli airstrike killed a senior Hezbollah commander. Hezbollah has fired hundreds of rockets toward Israel, igniting major fires in Israel’s north. In retaliation, Israel has continued to strike Hezbollah bases, with airstrikes in Lebanon’s south killing and wounding civilians.

WASHINGTON — The Biden administration has sanctioned a right-wing group of Israeli activists who have blocked humanitarian aid from reaching desperately hungry Palestinian civilians in Gaza.

The State Department sanctions were leveled Friday against Tzav 9, which has blocked a major highway in southern Israel in an effort to prevent the delivery of aid. U.S. officials say the group has also looted and set fire to trucks carrying aid through the West Bank toward Jordan.

In announcing the sanctions, the State Department said the Israeli government had a responsibility to ensure that humanitarian convoys could safely reach Gaza, and that acts of sabotage and violence would not be tolerated.

In a statement in response, Tzav 9 called the Biden administration’s decision to impose sanctions “shocking” and asserted that the aid that’s being delivered falls directly into the hands of Hamas. The group said it should not be “required to feed the enemy” and said that blocking aid was its right and duty.

BEIRUT — A senior official with the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah said its intensified attacks along Israel’s northern border will make it difficult for Israel to stage an all-our war on Lebanon because it knows the conflict would be costly.

The attacks are also pressuring Israel to end the war in the Gaza Strip, said Sheikh Ali Daamoush in a sermon during Friday prayers. His comments came as Iran-backed Hezbollah claimed it fired rockets into northern Israel in a third day of barrages, saying it struck several military posts including two in the towns of Metula and Misgav Am.

The Israeli military said approximately 35 projectiles were identified crossing from Lebanon into the areas of Kiryat Shmona and Kfar Szold in northern Israel earlier Friday. The army said that as a result of the launches, a fire broke out in the area of Kfar Szold. Israeli army artillery fired toward the sources of the launches, it said.

Lebanon’s state-run National News Agency reported an Israeli airstrike Friday on the border village of Kfar Kila. Late Thursday, an Israeli strike on the south Lebanon village of Janata killed two women and wounded 19, according to Hezbollah’s Al-Manar TV.

Hezbollah’s intensified attacks come after an Israeli strike late Tuesday killed the most senior military commander with the group since fighting began along the Lebanon-Israel border in early October.

These cross-border attacks have been taking place almost daily. This week’s escalation comes as some Israeli leaders have threatened all-out war to silence Hezbollah’s rocket fire, which has displaced tens of thousands of Israelis, and Hezbollah seeks to exert pressure in support of its Palestinian ally Hamas during back-and-forth negotiations over a cease-fire in Gaza.

More than 400 people have been killed in Lebanon, mostly fighters, but they include over 70 civilians and non-combatants. Tens of thousands have also been displaced. On the Israeli side, at least 15 soldiers and 10 civilians have been killed.

JERUSALEM — Two high-ranking Israeli officials will visit the U.S. next week, said an Israeli official Friday, as a U.S.-backed ceasefire proposal to end the grinding Israel-Hamas war hangs in the balance.

Israel’s strategic affairs minister Ron Dermer and national security adviser Tzachi Hanegbi will fly to Washington next week, the official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the subject matter.

The meetings come as U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken visits the Middle East to try to bridge gaps between Israel and Hamas over the proposal, which U.S. President Joe Biden announced earlier this month. It’s the latest serious attempt to wind down the war in Gaza.

Biden said Thursday he doesn’t expect to cement the deal in the near future, as it has not been fully embraced by Israel or Hamas.

DEIR Al-BALAH — An Israeli airstrike on a home in the central Gaza city of Deir al-Balah killed two people and wounded several others including children, hospital officials said.

The bodies of the two men were brought to the Al Aqsa Martyrs Hospital in Deir al-Balah.

The seven wounded, including three children and one woman, were also brought for treatment at the hospital.

Earlier in the day, the bodies of two fishermen were brought to the hospital after they were shot by Israel’s navy, the officials said.

Israel’s war against Hamas in Gaza has killed more than 37,100 people, according to Gaza’s Health Ministry, which does not distinguish between combatants and civilians in its count.

The Oct. 7 Hamas attack on Israel killed that sparked the war killed some 1,200 people — mostly civilians — and militants abducted about 250.

BORGO EGNAZIA, Italy — U.S. President Joe Biden said Thursday he doesn’t expect to reach a cease-fire deal for Gaza in the near future, as Israel and Hamas have not fully embraced an American-backed proposal with global support.

Biden said international leaders at the Group of Seven summit in Italy had discussed the cease-fire, but when asked by reporters if a truce deal wound be reached soon, Biden replied simply, “No,” adding, “I haven’t lost hope.”

Earlier Thursday, U.S. national security adviser Jake Sullivan pushed back against assertions that Israel isn’t fully committed to the cease-fire proposal with Hamas.

“Israel has supplied this proposal. It has been sitting on the table for some time. Israel has not contradicted or walked that back,” Sullivan said. Hamas responded to the plan by offering amendments, and Sullivan said the goal is “to figure out how we work to bridge the remaining gaps and get to a deal.”

Hamas says the requested changes aim to guarantee a permanent cease-fire and complete Israeli troop withdrawal from Gaza. The cease-fire proposal announced by Biden includes those provisions, but Hamas has expressed wariness whether Israel will implement the terms.

At a news conference later Thursday, Biden said, “The biggest hang-up so far is Hamas refusing to sign on, even though they have submitted something similar.”

He said it remains to be seen whether a deal comes “to fruition.” But he said he remains committed to pushing for the two sides to come together on the three-phase deal he publicly outlined late last month.



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