Israel has struck Lebanese territory 553 times since October 8, figures show

Research by Beirut Urban Lab highlights military dimension of conflict at border

Israeli troops take position near Israel's border with Lebanon, on Wednesday amid increasing tensions as fighting continues with Hamas militants in the southern Gaza Strip. AFP
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The number of attacks launched by Israel into Lebanon since October 8 far exceeds the strikes aimed at Israeli territory by Lebanon-based forces, data compiled by a non-profit has shown.

Between October 8 and November 10, Israeli forces carried out 553 strikes inside Lebanon.

This was nearly five times the 113 strikes carried out inside Israel by forces in Lebanon, according to an analysis by Beirut Urban Lab, a research space based at the American University of Beirut.

Researchers used data collected by the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data, an NGO specialising in conflict data collection.

The data, which analyses the frequency and location of strikes since armed groups led by Hezbollah intensified hostilities against Israel, in support of their ally Hamas in Gaza, shows attacks from the Israeli side were much higher than those from the Lebanese side.

Mona Fawaz, a professor in Urban Studies and Planning at the American University of Beirut, who co-founded the Beirut Urban Lab, said the findings contradict claims that Hezbollah is the belligerent attacking Israel.

“Western media has been using terms like crossfires, escalation, and war to refer to Lebanon’s southern border, which presupposes symmetrical warfare,” she said.

“By allowing the data to speak, it becomes evident that Israel is predominantly responsible for the attacks.”

The figures highlight peak days of violence, notably around the long-awaited speech of Hezbollah's leader Hassan Nasrallah on November 3.

There were 34 strikes inside Lebanon on November 2, the day before the speech, and at least 32 on November 4.

The most violent day in Israel was on October 13, with 21 strikes launched mostly from Hamas militants towards northern Israel.

“Daily Israeli strikes on Lebanon have been increasing at a rate of about one additional strike every two days. Over the same five-week period, the number of attacks striking Israel has actually declined from about five strikes to about two strikes per day,” said a researcher co-ordinator at the Beirut Urban Lab.

The data also shows how far strikes have travelled inside each country from the border, with a maximum distance of 53,7km inside Israel.

“Both sides have been narrowing the geography of engagement on average”, the researcher added.

“That is, the daily average strike distance from the border has declined over the course of the conflict for both sides, although the trend is more pronounced for attacks coming from Lebanon”.

However, key escalations in terms of geography have not yet been added to the data.

On Sunday the Israeli army conducted a drone strike in Zahrani, approximately 40 kilometres inside Lebanon.

Human toll

In its report on casualties, the Lebanese Ministry of Health said it had recorded 77 deaths and 328 injured as of November 13.

The figures do not distinguish between civilians and combatants.

According to a revised AFP tally, more than 60 Hezbollah fighters, 13 other combatants (including those from Palestinian groups), and 10 civilians have died.

Among the civilian casualties on the Lebanese side were Reuters journalist Issam Abdallah and three sisters aged 10, 12, and 14.

The Health Ministry reported that about 97 per cent of those wounded were Lebanese citizens, with Syrian and Palestinian nationals each constituting one per cent of the remainder.

About 38 per cent of the wounded suffered "blunt trauma," 30 per cent were wounded by "explosions", and 27 per cent by "exposure to toxic chemicals".

Lebanese officials and rights groups have decried Israeli use of white phosphorus, a highly toxic chemicals which can cause sever burns, respiratory issues and organ failure.

Israel denies using the chemical.

The ministry reported that 26,232 people have been displaced since the start of the war, citing figures from the International Organisation for Migration updated in October.

The situation is less clear from the Israeli side, as the Israeli army does not provide regular updates for injuries or deaths.

According to a written statement from the Israeli army to The National, at least eight soldiers have died since October 8.

They declined to provide The National with a number of civilian casualties.

According to news reports, at least three civilians were killed on the Israeli side.

Environmental toll

The conflict has led to a devastating environmental toll on Lebanese land due to what NGOs and officials have described as a scorched earth policy, in a region largely reliant on agriculture.

Israeli strikes have caused large wildfires, primarily attributed to the use of white phosphorus.

The Lebanese Ministry of Agriculture said in its last report published on Tuesday 340 fires have been recorded since October 8 due to Israeli shelling.

Of the affected areas, 60 per cent were woodland, 30 per cent agricultural land, and 10 per cent fruit and olive trees, which have suffered substantial damage, with about 47,000 perennial trees burnt. The Lebanese ministry also reported that 60 green houses were destroyed

Livestock has also been affected, with 290,000 chickens and 700 cattle at risk, while 600 square metres of animal feed storage have been destroyed.

Apiculture is also endangered, with about 250 beehives destroyed.

Updated: November 16, 2023, 2:24 PM