Hezbollah fires at Israel army base after Hamas deputy killing

Hezbollah fires at Israel army base after Hamas deputy killing

Monitoring Desk

BEIRUT: Hezbollah fired dozens of rockets from Lebanon into northern Israel on Saturday, warning that the barrage was its initial response to the targeted killing, presumably by Israel, of a top Hamas leader in Lebanon’s capital earlier this week.

The rocket attack came a day after Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah said his group must retaliate for the killing of Saleh Arouri, the deputy political leader of the militia’s ally Hamas, in a Hezbollah stronghold south of Beirut.

He said if Hezbollah did not strike back, all of Lebanon would be vulnerable to Israeli attack. He appeared to be making his case for a response to the Lebanese public, even at the risk of escalating the fighting between Hezbollah and Israel as the war between Israel and Hamas rages on.

Hezbollah said it launched 62 rockets toward an Israeli air surveillance base on Mount Meron and that it scored direct hits. It said rockets also struck two army posts near the border. The Israeli military said about 40 rockets were fired toward Meron and that a base was targeted, but made no mention of the base being hit. It said it struck the Hezbollah cell that fired the rockets.

Israeli airstrikes on southern Lebanon hit the outskirts of Kouthariyeh Al-Siyad village, about 40 kilometers (25 miles) from the border, Lebanon’s state-run National News Agency said, adding that there were casualties. Such strikes deeper inside Lebanon have been rare since the border fighting started nearly three months ago. NNA also said Israeli forces shelled border areas including the town of Khiam. Israel’s army had no immediate comment.

Separately, the armed wing of the Islamic Group in Lebanon, the country’s branch of the Muslim Brotherhood and a close ally of Hamas, said it fired two volleys of rockets toward the Israeli city of Kiryat Shmona on Friday night. Two of the group’s members were killed in the strike that killed Arouri.

The cross-border escalation came as US Secretary of State Antony Blinken was kicking off an urgent Middle East diplomatic tour, his fourth to the region since the Israel-Hamas war erupted three months ago. The war was triggered by a deadly Hamas attack on southern Israel in which militants killed about 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and took roughly 250 hostages.

In recent weeks, Israel has been scaling back its military assault in northern Gaza and pressing its heavy offensive in the territory’s south, vowing to crush Hamas. In the south, most of Gaza’s 2.3 million Palestinians are being squeezed into smaller areas in a humanitarian disaster while still being pounded by Israeli airstrikes.

On Saturday, the Health Ministry in Hamas-run Gaza said 122 Palestinians had been killed over the past 24 hours, bringing the total since the start of the war to 22,722. The count does not differentiate between combatants and civilians. The ministry has said two-thirds of those killed have been women or children. The overall number of wounded rose to 58,166, the ministry said.

The Al-Aqsa Martyrs hospital in the central city of Deir Al-Balah received at least 46 bodies overnight, according to hospital records seen by The Associated Press. Many were men who apparently had been shot. Fighting has raged between Israeli forces and militants in the area. The dead also included five members of a family who were killed in an airstrike, the records showed.

The latest Israeli-dropped leaflets urged Palestinians in some areas near the hospital to evacuate, citing “dangerous fighting.” In the southern Gaza city of Khan Younis, the focus of Israel’s ground offensive, the European Hospital received the bodies of 18 people who were killed in an overnight airstrike on a house in the city’s Maan neighborhood, said Saleh Al-Hamms, head of the hospital’s nursing department. — Arab News