Hezbollah fires 200 rockets and drones at Israel

Lebanese militant group Hezbollah has fired more than 200 rockets and attack drones into northern Israel in retaliation for the killing of one of its senior commanders.

The Israeli army said one military officer was killed in the shelling, which started multiple fires.

The army also said it targeted Hezbollah “military installations” and other facilities in southern Lebanon in retaliation.

Lebanese media reported that an Israeli drone strike in the town of Houla killed one person.

The barrage, which followed 100 rockets fired on Wednesday afternoon, was one of the largest yet in nine months of cross-border violence that has raised fears of all-out war.

Hezbollah commander Mohammed Nima Nasser, who was killed in an Israeli airstrike near the southern Lebanese city of Tyre, was one of the group’s most senior leaders to be killed in the conflict.

The Israeli military accused Nasser of commanding Hezbollah’s Aziz Force, responsible for firing rockets from southwestern Lebanon, and of orchestrating “numerous terrorist attacks.”

He was also described as a “partner” with another unit commander, Taleb Sami Abdullah, whose killing prompted Hezbollah to fire more than 200 rockets and missiles into northern Israel in a single day last month.

Hezbollah members carry the coffin of Mohammed Nasser, a senior Hezbollah commander killed in an Israeli airstrike, in Beirut, Lebanon, on July 4, 2024.

A Hezbollah official said they were “targeting new bases” in Israel in retaliation for the killing of Mohammed Nasser. [Reuters]

Since the day after the war in Gaza began between Israel and Hamas on October 7, there have been almost daily gun battles on the Israeli-Lebanese border.

Hezbollah says it is acting in support of Palestinian groups that are also backed by Iran. Both groups are banned as terrorist organisations by Israel, Britain and other countries.

So far, more than 400 people have been reported dead in Lebanon, the majority of them Hezbollah fighters, and 25 in Israel, most of them soldiers.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has promised to restore security in northern Israel.

“In our tough operation against Lebanon, we set the principle: ‘Death penalty for anyone who harms us’ and we are putting it into practice,” he said on Thursday.

The fighting has forced tens of thousands of people to flee the border areas of northern Israel and southern Lebanon.

“Reaction to the assassination of our beloved leader Hajj Abu Nimah [Nasser]”… it started rapidly last night,” Hezbollah leader Hashem Safieddine warned at Nasser’s funeral in Beirut on Thursday.

“This wave of attacks will continue to target new locations where our adversaries never expected to be attacked.”

A spokesman for UNIFIL, the UN peacekeeping force in Lebanon, said fighting was spreading deeper on both sides of the border and called on both Israel and Hezbollah to exercise restraint.

“We are very concerned because any interaction, any incident, if there is a misunderstanding, could escalate into something much bigger,” Candice Ardiel told the BBC.

There have been active diplomatic efforts in recent weeks to ease tensions, with the United Nations and the United States warning that a war that could also involve Iran and other allies could have devastating consequences.

Israeli officials have repeatedly warned they are ready for war if diplomacy fails, and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said on Wednesday the military was ready immediately to “take any necessary action in Lebanon or reach an agreement from a position of strength.”

Hezbollah, considered a much more superior enemy than Hamas, says it does not want all-out war with Israel and would abide by a ceasefire in Lebanon between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip if one is reached, but it has warned Israel that it would fight “without rules” if war broke out.

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