Hezbollah fires rockets after deadly Israeli strikes on east Lebanon

AFP , Monday 26 Feb 2024

Hezbollah fired on Monday a volley of rockets at an Israeli military base, the Lebanese group said after Israel's first strikes on Lebanon's east in months of hostilities linked to the Gaza war.

Lebanese soldiers at the site of the Israeli strike near Baalbek
Lebanese soldiers and emergency service personnel inspect the site of the Israeli strike near Baalbek. AFP

 

Two Hezbollah members were killed in the Israeli strikes in the eastern Baalbek area, two security officials in Lebanon and a source close to the Lebanese group told AFP.

"In response to the Zionist aggression near the city of Baalbek," fighters targeted an army base in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights "with 60 Katyusha rockets", Hezbollah said in a statement.

The Israeli army told AFP that "dozens of rockets" had been launched from Lebanon. There were no immediate reports of casualties.

The army had said the strikes near Baalbek targeted Hezbollah air defence systems in retaliation for the group downing one of its drones in south Lebanon earlier on Monday.

One of the Lebanese security sources said Israeli strikes hit a building used by Hezbollah in a Baalbek suburb and a warehouse near Baalbek belonging to the group.

Hezbollah later announced two of its members had been killed by Israeli fire, with a source close to the group confirming they were killed in the Baalbek strikes.

It was the first Israeli attack on Hezbollah outside Lebanon's south since the Israeli war on Gaza erupted.

'Determination' 
 

Later Monday an Israeli strike on a car in southern Lebanon killed at least one person, local rescuers told AFP, without providing further details.

Hezbollah said a third member had been killed by Israeli fire.

Hezbollah announced several attacks on Israeli sites and troops on Monday, with local media also reporting Israeli strikes on south Lebanon villages.

Since October 8, Hezbollah and arch-foe Israel have exchanged near-daily fire, but strikes have been largely contained to the border area -- although Israel has launched attacks elsewhere in Lebanon.

During a funeral procession for one of the group's fighters, Hezbollah lawmaker Hassan Fadlallah lambasted the strikes on Baalbek, a bastion of the Shia Muslim movement near the border with Syria.

"This Zionist encroachment will not push us to retreat, it will rather increase our determination," Fadlallah said in a televised address.

The cross-border hostilities have killed at least 281 people on the Lebanese side, most of them Hezbollah fighters but also including 44 civilians, according to an AFP tally.

On the Israeli side, 10 soldiers and six civilians have died since October, according to the Israeli army.

Residents on both sides of the border have been displaced by the fighting, and Israeli officials have threatened military action to restore security in the country's north.

On Sunday, Israeli Defence Minister Yoav Gallant said there would be no let up in Israeli action against Hezbollah even if a ceasefire was secured in Gaza.

Hezbollah has said it will stop launching attacks on Israel if the Israeli army stops its aggression on Gaza.

In January, an israeli strike killed Hamas's deputy leader Saleh al-Aruri and six Hezbollah's members south Beirut.

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