Hezbollah fires new rocket salvo at Israel after deadly strikes

Hezbollah fires new rocket salvo at Israel after deadly strikes
Hezbollah fires new rocket salvo at Israel after deadly strikes

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Nevin Al Sukari - Sana'a - Fighters of the Lebanese Shiite group Hezbollah parade during a ceremony to commemorate the party's fallen leaders in the Lebanese village of Jibshit, about 50 kilometres south of the capital Beirut on February 15, 2024. — AFP pic

BEIRUT, Feb 16 — Lebanon’s Iran-backed Hezbollah movement said yesterday it had fired dozens of rockets into northern Israel, a day after Israeli strikes killed 15 people, including one of its commanders.

“Islamic resistance fighters fired dozens of Katyusha-type rockets at Kiryat Shmona,” an Israeli town near the Lebanese border, Hezbollah said in a statement.

It said the rocket fire was “a first response” to the deadly Israeli strikes on the southern city of Nabatiyeh and Sawwaneh.

Hamas ally Hezbollah and its arch-foe Israel have been exchanging near-daily fire across the border since the Israel-Hamas war broke out on October 7.

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In the bloodiest day for Lebanon since then, the Israeli military said it had killed Hezbollah commander Ali al-Debs, his deputy and another fighter in Nabatiyeh on Wednesday.

A security source in Lebanon said that along with Debs and two other Hezbollah members, the strike had killed seven civilians from the same family. The source requested anonymity, not being authorised to speak to the media.

The deaths brought to 10 the total number of civilians killed in Israeli strikes on Wednesday, the highest single day toll since the cross-border hostilities erupted.

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The Israeli army said it carried out Wednesday’s strikes after a soldier was killed by rocket fire from Lebanon.

Debs had already been targeted and wounded in an Israeli drone strike in the southern city on February 8.

‘Aggression’

Lebanon’s state-run National News Agency identified five of the civilians killed in Nabatiyeh as Hussein Barjawi, his two daughters, his sister and his grandson. His wife and niece were also killed, the security source said.

Emergency responders pulled a boy alive from the rubble, the NNA added, while another relative and at least six other people were taken to hospital.

The news agency said the Israeli strike was carried out by “a drone with a guided missile”.

An AFP photographer said the ground and first floors of the three-storey residential building were hit, with pieces of furniture strewn among the rubble.

Also on Wednesday, the NNA said Israeli warplanes targeted a house in the southern village of Sawwaneh, killing three members of the same family — a Syrian woman and her child, aged two, and stepchild, 13.

‘Deeply concerning’

Fears have been growing of another full-blown war between Israel and Hezbollah, like that of 2006.

Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati condemned the latest deadly Israeli strikes.

He said that while Lebanon urged “all parties” to avoid escalation, “we find that the Israeli enemy keeps up its aggression”, adding that Beirut would lodge a complaint with the UN Security Council.

The UN peacekeeping mission in Lebanon (UNIFIL) urged “intensified” diplomatic efforts “to restore stability and safeguard the safety of civilians”.

“The devastation, loss of life and injuries witnessed are deeply concerning,” said UNIFIL spokesman Andrea Tenenti, urging “all parties involved to halt hostilities immediately to prevent further escalation”.

UN humanitarian coordinator for Lebanon Imran Riza said “the rules of war are clear: parties must protect civilians”.

The cross-border exchanges have killed at least 262 people on the Lebanese side, most of them Hezbollah fighters but also including 40 civilians, according to an AFP tally.

On the Israeli side, 10 soldiers and six civilians have been killed, according to the Israeli army. — AFP

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