Israeli strike on Gaza hospital kills four, wounds 17: WHO

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BEIRUT: All Lebanese people must decide “the future, security, and safety of their country,” Maronite Patriarch Bechara Al-Rahi said in his Easter sermon, as Christian communities in the border villages celebrated on Sunday amid ongoing hostilities between Israel and Hezbollah.

Al-Rahi urged the Lebanese people to unite in declaring an immediate ceasefire, abide by international resolutions, namely UN Resolution 1701, and to uphold the concepts of “peace and resurrection.”

He said southern Lebanon “must not be reduced to a mere pawn in the hands of those who would exploit it for the causes of others, or as a battleground for the conflicts of others.”

Al-Rahi’s sermon came the same day UNIFIL spokesperson Andrea Tenenti suggested that “developments in southern Lebanon are very worrying, and … escalation might lead to a bigger conflict.”

Tenenti said: “We noticed over the past period that shelling on the Lebanese-Israeli border has become bloodier and more violent.

“There is no room for a military solution between Lebanon and Israel that could cause an unwanted larger conflict.”

He also said: “There is still room for negotiation, and there is still an opportunity to reach solutions regarding southern Lebanon.”

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres criticized an attack on Saturday night that hit UN peacekeepers in southern Lebanon.

He accused Israel of using a drone, causing injuries to three of its members and a Lebanese translator.

Guterres stressed “the importance of ensuring the safety and security of UN forces to maintain peace at all times,” and warned that “the continued tension along the Blue Line between Lebanon and Israel raises great concern, and the repeated violations of Resolution 1701 constitute a serious threat to security and stability in the region.”

He said all parties “must refrain from committing further violations, adhere to the resolution, and find a diplomatic solution to the crisis.”

The UN chief’s reaction came as a cautious calm prevailed over the border area over the Easter weekends.

Reconnaissance and surveillance drones continued flying in the southern skies, reaching the farthest area in the Bekaa.

On Saturday, Al-Rahi commended “the southerners who are steadfast in their towns and villages despite the bombing,” in his traditional Easter message.

He also honored “those who lost family members, had their homes destroyed, or were forced to flee to different places.”

Many people have had to leave the Christian towns near the border because of Israeli attacks, but some who stayed attended Easter masse this Sunday.

During their sermons in Tyre, clergy urged people to reject war and conflicts and to pray for those suffering, displaced, and hungry in Lebanon, Palestine, and around the globe.

Meanwhile, Hezbollah used drones on Sunday in operations over Mount Hermon. The Israeli Army said that “a drone was launched from Lebanon and landed in the Hermon area without causing any casualties.”

It added that “sirens sounded in the occupied northern Golan Heights for fear of a drone infiltrating from Lebanon.”

Hezbollah said it launched “an air attack with assault drones on the newly established Barkhta artillery position and a deployment of enemy soldiers in its vicinity in the occupied Lebanese Shebaa Farms, causing direct hits in both sites.”

Israeli Army Radio later reported that three missiles were launched from Lebanon toward the Mount Dov area, two of which were intercepted, and the third fell in an open area. It also said that a soldier was injured by shrapnel from a missile fired at the Kiryat Shmona area in Upper Galilee.

Hezbollah said that it targeted “Al-Malikiyah site with Burkan rockets and directly hit it” and also targeted the Ramim barracks with artillery shells.

The Israeli Army targeted a car on Sunday afternoon in the town of Kunin in the Bint Jbeil district using two guided missiles, resulting in the destruction of the vehicle.

The Israeli military stated it struck Hezbollah bases in Khiam and Rab El-Thalathine in southern Lebanon after the attack near Kiryat Shmona.

Kafr Kila was hit with mortar and heavy machine-gun fire from the Metula settlement. Israeli airstrikes targeted the outskirts of Alma Al-Shaab in the west.

A residential building in the town of Rab Thaleen was also destroyed due to the Israeli artillery shelling.