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Hezbollah launches full-throttle retaliatory assault on Israel

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Lebanon’s Iran-backed Hezbollah militants announced a significant offensive, launching rockets and drones at Israeli military targets on Thursday in retaliation for the killing of one of its senior commanders in an Israeli strike.

Black smoke billows from a fire caused by an Israeli airstrike on Jennata, east of the southern Lebanese port city of Tyre, June 14, 2024. (AFP Photo)
Black smoke billows from a fire caused by an Israeli airstrike on Jennata, east of the southern Lebanese port city of Tyre, June 14, 2024. (AFP Photo)

This major assault follows months of ongoing skirmishes between Hezbollah and the Israeli military, intensified by Hezbollah’s ally Hamas’ incursion on Israel on Oct. 7, which sparked the latest Gaza conflict.

Hezbollah fighters carried out a coordinated assault using rockets and drones, targeting six Israeli military installations.

Simultaneously, they deployed squadrons of explosive-laden drones toward three additional Israeli bases, as stated in the group’s official statement.

One of the targets was an Israeli base that the militants 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 its commander, Taleb Abdallah, on Tuesday.

The Israeli army said during the afternoon that about “40 projectiles were launched toward the Galilee and Golan Heights area,” adding most were intercepted, while some ignited fires.

In one attack near the border village of Manara, “one IDF soldier was moderately injured and an additional soldier was lightly injured,” the Israeli military said.

The Israeli government said it would respond strongly to all Hezbollah attacks.

“Israel will respond with force to all aggressions by Hezbollah,” government spokesperson David Mencer said during a press briefing, vowing to “restore security on our northern border.”

Later, Lebanon’s National News Agency reported that Israeli “warplanes launched a raid targeting a house” in the town of Janata, killing one civilian and injuring seven others.

Increased intensity

In recent weeks, cross-border exchanges have escalated, with Hezbollah stepping up its use of drones to attack Israeli army positions and Israel responding 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.

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

Addressing the situation along the border – which France has been making diplomatic efforts to contain since January – French President Emmanuel Macron said Thursday that his country, the United States and Israel would work together to ease tensions in the area.

Speaking at a G-7 summit in Italy, Macron said the three countries would “move forward on the road map that we have proposed. We will do the same with the Lebanese authorities.”

The French proposal involves halting attacks on both sides and militants withdrawing 10 kilometers (6.21 miles) from the border, according to Lebanese officials.