Lebanon PM promises compensation for Israel strikes

Lebanon’s Prime Minister Najib Mikati has promised compensation for families who suffered casualties in Israeli air strikes and for those with destroyed homes on March 20th, according to The New Arab and agencies.

A border conflict between Israel and Hezbollah has raged since October 8th, when Hezbollah opened a new front “in solidarity” with ally Hamas. Approximately 91,000 Lebanese citizens have found themselves displaced amidst the rubble of 1,000 demolished homes.

Meanwhile, 80% of the population have plunged into poverty due to Lebanon’s economic collapse, described as the worst economic crisis since 1850. This challenge has exacerbated the already tough living conditions – especially for southern Lebanon.

The government’s pledge also comes in the wake of Hezbollah’s own promise on March 10th to issue compensation to border residents. According to the militant group, some 87,000 residents will be given aid in addition to monthly payments, food, drink, and shelter.

The dangers of the border area were underscored last month, when on February 14th two Israeli airstrikes hit the town of Ghaziyeh in southern Lebanon. Located about 30km away from the border, the attack was the deadliest yet with 10 people killed – including 5 children.

READ: Israel strikes Hezbollah targets in southern Lebanon

The Lebanese government’s promises of compensation will grant $20,000 to each victims’ families, and $40,000 for those whose houses have been destroyed. Property and agricultural damage will also be assessed for compensation by the southern Lebanese council.

However, the border violence has halted the survey for now. The UN peacekeeping force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) reported that Israel fired 7,948 projectiles at Lebanon between October 21st to February 20th. Hezbollah and its allies reportedly launched 978 projectiles towards Israel in the same period.

The devastating impacts of the war have prompted UNIFIL to call for a cessation of hostilities and adherence to UN Resolution 1701. The Resolution was critical in halting the one-month Hezbollah-Israel war in 2006. UNIFIL Commander Aroldo Lázaro expressed the need to “work toward de-escalation in the short term, and peace in the long term.”

READ: UN Mission renew appeals for calm in Lebanon

The war has also had consequences beyond the immediate human casualties. About 10 million square metres of forests and olive fields have been burned in south Lebanon, a region heavily reliant on agriculture for its economy. In addition to farmland devastation, fields have wasted, with tobacco unable to be sold. It is reported discussions are taking place to compensate affected tobacco farmers.

In addition to this, Lebanon’s complicated relationship with Arab Gulf states has deepened challenges.

Arab Gulf states provided the much-needed funding to rebuild south Lebanon following the 2006 war.

Yet since then, relations between Lebanon and the Arab Gulf have become increasingly strained economically and diplomatically, owing to Lebanon’s widespread drug smuggling and its reluctance to be tougher with Hezbollah. Tensions peaked in 2021, when former Lebanese information minister critiqued Gulf involvement in Yemen, describing them as “Bedouins”. As a result, several Gulf states cut diplomatic ties.

The New Arab/agencies


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