As Strikes Escalate, 100,000 Estimated to Have Fled from South Lebanon

PM says 800 hectares of farmland have been destroyed, thousands of homes damaged

Near daily strikes in southern Lebanon have sent a large portion of the population fleeing deeper into the country. Just a few weeks ago, 90,000 residents were estimated as being displaced, but reports are now that fully 100,000 people of the region’s 150,000 have fled.

Since the strikes started in October, some 313 have been killed and more than 1,000 wounded. But the longer-term impact, however, may be the economic damage to the region’s farming.

Attacks have destroyed some 800 hectares (8 million square meters) of farmland. Between this and population displacement, nearly 75% of the residents in the area have lost their ability to earn a living by farming.

Prime Minister Najib Mikati says the government must declare the south of the country to be an agricultural disaster zone.

While the government has promised to compensate those whose homes were damaged in the strikes, there is no number as to how many homes will be included. Early estimates put it “in the thousands.” This large number is a clear result of Israel striking “Hezbollah buildings” that almost invariably turn out to be houses in small villages.

Locals from the area hope to return as soon as a ceasefire is reached with Israel. The same hope is true in northern Israel, where 60,000 people have been displaced. But Israeli military officials have suggested returning northerners home requires a military offensive rather than a diplomatic settlement.

Mikati says that allies throughout the world are working to halt Israeli aggression, adding that Lebanon seeks “real peace.” Analysts have suggested that any truce in Lebanon must be connected to a ceasefire in the Gaza Strip, and considerable work by multiple countries is ongoing in that effort.

Reportedly a truce in Lebanon will involve Hezbollah being displaced further north and replaced by the Lebanese Army. The French have been pushing this plan, and the US has offered to fund Lebanon to see to its implementation.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.