Israel-Hezbollah tensions drive fears of widening Gaza war

Smoke billows during Israeli bombardment on the village of Khiam in south Lebanon near the border with Israel on June 8, 2024 amid ongoing cross-border tensions as fighting continues between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

Fears of a regional war rose Thursday after Lebanon's powerful Hezbollah movement said none of Israel would be spared in a full-blown conflict, and Israel said it had approved plans for a Lebanon offensive.

Experts are divided on the prospect of wider war, almost nine months into Israel's vow to eradicate Hamas, the Palestinian militant group in the Gaza Strip.

On Wednesday Israel's top army spokesman said Hamas, as an ideology, cannot be eliminated. Others, including U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, have also pointed to the difficulty of destroying the group.

In a televised address, Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah said "no place" in Israel would "be spared our rockets" if war began.

Nasrallah's Iran-backed group has exchanged near-daily fire with Israel since Hamas's Oct. 7 attack on southern Israel, but the fire from Hezbollah rockets, Israeli warplanes and other weapons has escalated in the past few weeks.

The Hezbollah chief also threatened the nearby island nation, Greek Cyprus, if it opened its airports or bases to Israel "to target Lebanon".

Greek Cyprus, a European Union member, is home to two British bases, including an airbase, but they are in sovereign British territory and not controlled by the Cypriot government.

Greek Cypriot President Nikos Christodoulides denied his country's involvement in the war and said it was "part of the solution". He pointed to its role in a maritime humanitarian corridor to Gaza.

Warplanes from the British airbase in Cyprus have,...

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