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Metula mayor sounds alarm: Almost half of family homes damaged from Hezbollah fire, next school year in danger

Hezbollah leader: Gaza war is only ‘prelude to Israel’s destruction’

Metula Mayor David Azoulay with Shlomi Mayor Gabi Naaman seen in the northern Israeli town of Metula, May 7, 2024. (Photo: Yossi Aloni/Flash90)

“Approximately 40% of the family homes in Metula were damaged to one degree or another,” the mayor of Metula, David Azoulay, told Radio North 104.5FM on Tuesday.

The mayor of Israel’s northernmost town, which has been devastated by constant Hezbollah fire from southern Lebanon, also questioned the official target dates for the return of normal life in his abandoned town.

In response to reports that evacuated residents may be allowed to return to their homes by Aug. 31, Azoulay said: “We set September 1st as the target date when we can return and open the school year here in our settlements. Unfortunately, I don't see it happening, even though I am very optimistic.”

“Even if on August 20 the story ends and they tell us to come back, I can see myself opening the educational institutions here, even with all the mess. Fortunately, the educational institutions in Metula have not been damaged as of now… I’ve been here for 9 months, it's just unbelievable. There are no people, no residents, no noise of children,” the mayor added.

Israeli towns and communities adjacent to the Lebanese border were evacuated last October, with tens of thousands of citizens still living in hotels and government-financed rental apartments.

Metula, surrounded by Lebanon on three sides, is in direct firing range from several hills in southern Lebanon that overlook the town. So far, Hezbollah attacks have damaged “lots of public infrastructure, roads and sidewalks, light poles and electricity, public squares. It’s many tens of millions of shekels, approaching a hundred million shekels to rehabilitate this issue,” Azoulay said.

“And that’s only for now, there are neighborhoods we can’t get to and see. There is a neighborhood I haven’t been to in a month, I don’t know what’s going on there, you can only see it from afar.”

Israeli media outlets reported that due to its proximity to the Lebanese border, parts of Metula may only be visited at night so as not to draw immediate fire from Hezbollah forces.

Hezbollah Deputy Leader Naim Qassem continued his threats against Israel on Monday, despite reports that as a truce in Gaza appears increasingly possible, Hezbollah might also stop its attacks.

Qassem said that in his view, the Hamas invasion on October 7 was only “a prelude to the destruction of Israel.”

“The earthquake that occurred in the form of the Al-Aqsa Flood will serve as a reason and prelude to the destruction of Israel and these acts of sacrifice and heroism will change the equation, the operation will shake the foundations of its existence. These sacrifices are a prelude to [fulfilling] justice, the Israeli entity will not last and the injustice will be stopped,” he added.

Hezbollah fired a barrage of nine missiles toward the Upper Galilee region on Monday afternoon, before launching two more volleys of around 15 rockets in the evening.

Israel Defense Forces reported that most rockets fell in open areas and didn’t cause any casualties or significant damage.

The IDF on Monday announced it killed Mustafa Hassan Salman, a Hezbollah operative in its rocket and missile unit, who the army said took part in the planning and execution of a variety of terrorist activities.

Later on Monday, Israeli fighter jets struck military buildings in the area of Maroun al-Ras, as well as Hezbollah infrastructure in Aita al-Sha’ab and Khoula.

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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