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A top official from Lebanon’s Iran-backed militant group Hezbollah on Friday warned Israel would “receive a real slap in the face” if it expanded the conflict along the Lebanon-Israel border. Since the surprise October 7 attack by Hamas on southern Israel, there have been near daily exchanges of cross-border fire between the Israeli army and Hezbollah, an ally of the Palestinian militants. Israel has repeatedly bombarded border villages, with the violence killing more than 195 people in Lebanon, including at least 142 Hezbollah fighters, according to an AFP tally. On the Israeli side, 15 people have been killed, of whom nine were soldiers and six civilians, according to the Israeli army. “If Israel decides to expand its aggression, it will receive a real slap in the face in response,” Hezbollah’s number two, Naim Qassem, said in a statement. Any restoration of stability on the border is contingent on “the end of the aggression in Gaza”, he added. “The enemy must know the party is ready, that we are preparing based on the principle that an endless aggression can happen, just like our will to push back the aggression is infinite.” His remarks came after Israeli air strikes “completely destroyed” at least three houses in southern Lebanon on Friday, the official Lebanese news agency NNA and the mayor of the affected border community said. The agency reported four houses were targeted “since this morning by the Israeli air force in Kfar Kila”, a village near the Israel-Lebanon border, while three were “completely destroyed”. A fifth home was also targeted by artillery fire, NNA said. The Israeli army said on Friday it had “conducted air strikes and carried out artillery and tank fire against Hezbollah observation posts and terrorist infrastructure” in the Kfar Kila sector. “There are around 100 residents left in Kfar Kila, but by chance, when the bombings took place, the destroyed homes were empty,” the mayor of the village, Hassan Chite, told AFP. On Friday afternoon, Hezbollah claimed three attacks, including two against “deployments of soldiers of the Israeli enemy” on the border, including using Burkan missiles, which can carry a large explosive payload. – War would be ‘complete disaster’ – Israel “is not prepared for a war against what the Islamic resistance in Lebanon has in store for it”, Mohamed Raad, the head of the Islamist militants’ parliamentary bloc, said on Friday, according to the NNA. Defence Minister Yoav Gallant told soldiers on Friday that Israel was ready to “achieve security by force” on its northern border with Lebanon. “As long as the war continues in the south, there will be war in the north. But we will not accept this situation for prolonged periods,” he said. “There will be a moment if we do not reach an agreement in which Hezbollah respects the right of the residents to live here in security — we will have to achieve security by force.” On Wednesday, Israeli army chief Herzi Halevi said the probability of a war between Israel and Hezbollah “in the coming months is much higher than it was in the past”. The same day, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said a “total confrontation” between the two would be a “complete disaster”.

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