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Hezbollah fires rockets at north Israel after air strike kills five senior fighters
23 November 2023, 17:54
The rockets represented one of the most intense bombardments of their kind since Hezbollah started attacking Israeli posts in the north.
The militant Hezbollah group has fired more than 50 rockets at military posts in northern Israel, a day after an Israeli air strike on a home in southern Lebanon killed five of the group’s senior fighters.
It was one of the most intense bombardments since Hezbollah started attacking Israeli posts in the country’s north at the beginning of the Israel-Hamas war.
Hezbollah has said that by intensifying its actions on the Israel-Lebanon border, it is easing pressure on the Gaza Strip, where Israel’s crushing aerial, ground and naval offensive has left more than 13,300 Palestinians dead and caused widespread destruction in the sealed-off enclave.
The war was triggered by an October 7 Hamas attack on southern Israel which left about 1,200 people dead, most of them civilians, and resulted in about 240 hostages being taken to Gaza.
An agreement for a four-day ceasefire in Gaza, and the release of dozens of hostages held by the militants and Palestinians imprisoned by Israel, had been set to take place on Thursday but it was later announced in Qatar, which was a main mediator, that the truce would come into effect on Friday morning.
Hezbollah said in a series of statements on Thursday that the volleys it fired towards Israeli posts included 48 Katyusha rockets directed at an Israeli army base in Beit Zeitem, about six miles south of the border.
In another attack, Hezbollah said its fighters monitored four Israeli soldiers as they took positions inside a house in the Manara Kibbutz then fired an anti-tank missile that destroyed the house and killed the soldiers. There was no comment on the claim by Israel’s military.
Hezbollah released at least 21 statements claiming attacks on Thursday alone, making it a record in one day since the fighting began last month. The group said its fighters also struck Israeli tanks.
The attacks followed an Israeli air strike on a house in Beit Yahoun, a village in southern Lebanon, which killed five senior fighters including Abbas Raad, the son of the head of Hezbollah’s 13-member parliamentary bloc in Lebanon, Mohammed Raad.
The deaths take the number of Hezbollah fighters killed in seven weeks of fighting to at least 83.
Thousands of people, including senior Hezbollah officials, attended Raad’s funeral in the southern village of Jbaa. After a Thursday afternoon ceremony in the main square, the coffin, draped in Hezbollah’s yellow flag, was carried to a cemetery for burial.
“When Netanyahu accepts to abide by a truce, this means he is not capable of wiping out the resistance,” top Hezbollah official Hashem Safieddine said in a funeral speech, referring to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah met Iranian foreign minister Hossein Amirabdollahian in Beirut in Thursday. They discussed the war in Gaza and efforts to “stop the Israeli aggression”, as well as the situation at the Lebanon-Israel border, according to a statement released by Hezbollah.
Mr Amirabdollahian warned in comments to journalists on his arrival in Lebanon on Wednesday that the Israel-Hamas war could “spiral out of control” if a truce does not last.
Iran-backed factions in Iraq, including the militant group Kataib Hezbollah, have carried out more than 60 rocket or suicide drone attacks at bases housing US troops in Iraq and Syria.
Kataib Hezbollah is allied with Lebanon’s Hezbollah but the groups have different leaders.
The US military said on Thursday that one of its warships in the Red Sea had shot down bomb-carrying drones launched from territory controlled by Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthi rebels.
The American military’s Central Command said the USS Thomas Hudner, an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer, shot down the drones early on Thursday morning. “The ship and crew sustained no damage or injury,” Central Command said.