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Hizbollah targets Israeli barracks after Islamist commander's death

By AF - Jun 24,2024 - Last updated at Jun 24,2024

A smoke plume billows during Israeli bombardment on the village of Khiam in south Lebanon near the border with Israel on Sunday (AFP photo)

BEIRUT — Lebanon's Hizbollah militant group said on Sunday it had targeted two military positions in northern Israel with an armed drone in response to the killing of an Islamist commander.

Israel and the powerful Iran-backed group, a Hamas ally, have exchanged near-daily cross-border fire since the Gaza war erupted on October 7.

Hizbollah's announcement came hours after it published a video excerpt purporting to show locations in Israel along with their coordinates, amid heightening fears of an all-out conflict between the two foes.

On Saturday, the Jamaa Islamiya group announced the death of one of its commanders, Ayman Ghotmeh, saying he was killed "in a treacherous Zionist raid" in Khiara in Lebanon's eastern Bekaa area.

Israel later confirmed it had carried out the strike, saying Ghotmeh was responsible for supplying the Fajr Forces, Jamaa Islamiya's armed wing, and Hamas with weapons in the area.

Hizbollah on Sunday said its fighters launched a strike "with an attack drone" on a military leadership position in the Beit Hillel barracks "in response to the assassination carried out by the Israeli enemy in the town of Khiara".

The Israeli military meanwhile said in a statement that a drone had "crossed from Lebanon and fell in the area of Beit Hillel", adding that "no injuries were reported".

Hizbollah later said it had struck with a "squadron of assault drones" the "headquarters of the newly created 91st Division in Ayelet Hashahar" near the northern Israeli city of Safed.

Cross-border tensions have surged in recent days, with Israel's military announcing on Tuesday that a plan for an offensive in Lebanon had been "approved and validated".

Hizbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah responded with threats that no part of Israel would be spared in the event of an all-out war.

The Lebanese armed group on Saturday evening published a video showing Israeli positions and coordinates, along with an excerpt of Nasrallah's speech in which he says "if war is imposed on Lebanon, the resistance will fight without restrictions or rules".

Days earlier, it had circulated a nine-minute video showing aerial footage purportedly taken by the movement over northern Israel, including what it said were sensitive military, defence and energy facilities and infrastructure in the city and port of Haifa.

The cross-border violence has killed at least 480 people in Lebanon, most of them fighters but also 93 civilians, according to an AFP tally.

Israeli authorities say at least 15 soldiers and 11 civilians have been killed in the country’s north.


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