Israel launches ‘extensive’ strikes in Lebanon after rockets hit army base

Connie Queline

Israel launches ‘extensive’ strikes in Lebanon after rockets hit army base

AFP

Four people have been killed in an “extensive wave” of Israeli air strikes in Lebanon launched after Hezbollah rocket fire killed a soldier in Israel.

A woman and two children were killed in the southern Lebanese town of Souaneh, state media and security sources said.

A man who Hezbollah identified as one of its fighters was killed in Aadchit.

Israel’s military said it hit Hezbollah infrastructure in response to a deadly rocket attack on its base in the northern Israeli town of Safed.

Hezbollah fighters have exchanged fire with Israeli forces almost every day along the border since the start of the war between Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas in the Gaza Strip in October.

The clashes have raised fears of a wider regional conflict.

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On Wednesday morning, sirens sounded across northern Israel as barrages of rockets were fired towards the border communities of Netua and Manara, and the town of Safed, which is 14 km (9 miles) south of the frontier.

One Israeli soldier was killed and seven others were wounded after their base in Safed was hit by rockets, Israeli media and emergency services said. The soldier who died was later identified as Staff-Sergeant Omer Sarah Benjo.

A video showed that another rocket landed near the gate of Safed’s hospital.

Hezbollah later claimed it had attacked an “enemy position” in Safed “in support of the people and resistance of Gaza which is being subjected to brutal Zionist aggression with a US green light”.

In the afternoon, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) announced that fighter jets had “struck a series of Hezbollah terror targets” in Souaneh, Aadchit, Jabal al-Braij, Kfar Houneh and Kfar Dunin in response to the rocket fire.

Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah addresses his supporters in a televised speech, at a rally in Beirut, Lebanon (13 February 2024)

Reuters

“Among the targets struck were military compounds, operational control rooms, and terror infrastructure,” it said, adding that several targets belonged to Hezbollah’s elite Radwan Force, whose well-trained members are considered the group’s special forces.

Lebanon’s state-run National News Agency (NNA) said a strike on a home in Souaneh killed a Syrian woman, Rawaa al-Mohammed, and her two sons, Hassan Mohsen, 13, and Amir Mohsen, two.

Video from the town showed residents inspecting the rubble of at least one destroyed building and the burned-out wreckage of a car.

NNA also reported that one man was killed and 10 other people were injured in Aadchit. It named the dead man as Hassan Ali Najm, a Hezbollah fighter whose death the group confirmed in a statement on Telegram.

“As we have made clear time and time again, Israel is not interested in a war on two fronts. But if provoked, we will respond forcefully,” Israeli government spokesperson Ilana Stein told Reuters news agency.

“The current reality, where tens of thousands of Israelis are displaced [in the north] and cannot return to their homes, is unbearable. They must be able to return home and live in peace and security.”

The IDF’s chief of staff, Lt Gen Herzi Halevi, meanwhile told the heads of northern municipalities: “There are great achievements striking Hezbollah in Lebanon, but we continue to operate – this is not the time to stop.

“We are intensifying the strikes all the time, and Hezbollah are paying an increasingly heavy price.”

On Tuesday, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah warned Israeli leaders in a speech that launching a war against the group would result in a “million evacuees” from northern Israel.

“To those who threaten us with a widening of the war: if you widen, we will too,” he said, adding that “those who think the resistance might be afraid are very mistaken”.

He also vowed that Hezbollah would only cease fire “when the aggression stops and there is a ceasefire in Gaza”.

Related Topics

  • Israel-Gaza war
  • Israel
  • Lebanon

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