Hezbollah fires new barrage at Israel, which vows to hit back

AFP , Thursday 13 Jun 2024

Lebanon's Iran-backed Hezbollah group said it fired waves of rockets and drones at the Israeli army on Thursday, after an Israeli strike killed one of its senior commanders.

An Israeli flag flies from a pole as behind smoke plumes rise from a fire in a field after rockets launched from southern Lebanon landed near Katzrin in the Israel-annexed Golan Heights. AFP


It was Hezbollah's largest simultaneous attack in near-daily cross-border fire between it and the Israeli army since the start of the Israeli war on Gaza.

Hezbollah fighters launched "an attack with rockets and drones, targeting six barracks and military sites" while simultaneously flying "squadrons of explosive-laden drones" at three other Israeli bases, the group said in a statement.

One of the targets was an Israeli base that Hezbollah said housed an intelligence headquarters "responsible for the assassinations".

Hezbollah, which announced more strikes into the evening, said the attacks were "part of the response to the assassination" of Hezbollah commander Taleb Abdallah on Tuesday.

The Israeli army said about "40 projectiles were launched toward the Galilee and Golan Heights area", adding most were intercepted while others ignited fires.

In one attack near the border village of Manara, "one IDF (army) soldier was moderately injured and an additional soldier was lightly injured", the military said.

The Israeli government vowed to respond strongly to all Hezbollah attacks.

"Israel will respond with force to all aggressions by Hezbollah," government spokesman David Mencer said during a press briefing.

"Whether through diplomatic efforts or otherwise, Israel will restore security on our northern border," he added.

In recent weeks, cross-border exchanges have escalated, with Hezbollah stepping up its use of drones to attack Israeli military positions and Israel hitting back with targeted strikes against the militants.

On Wednesday, top Hezbollah official Hashem Safieddine vowed the group would "increase the intensity, strength, quantity and quality of our attacks", while speaking at Abdallah's funeral.

The Israeli army confirmed it carried out the strike that "eliminated" Abdallah on Tuesday, describing him as "one of Hezbollah's most senior commanders in southern Lebanon".

A Lebanese military source said he was the "most important" Hezbollah commander to have been killed since the start of the war.

The cross-border violence has killed at least 468 people in Lebanon, most of them fighters but also including 89 civilians, according to an AFP tally.

Israeli authorities say at least 15 Israeli soldiers and 11 civilians have been killed.

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