Hezbollah rains rockets on Israel after strike kills commander

Local Druze men watch the flames burning a field after rockets launched from southern Lebanon landed on the Banias area in the Israel-annexed Golan Heights on 9 June, 2024.AFP

Lebanese group Hezbollah fired successive barrages of rockets at northern Israel on Wednesday, after an Israeli air strike killed a senior commander in south Lebanon the previous day.

Hezbollah has traded near-daily cross-border fire with the Israeli army since its Palestinian ally Hamas attacked southern Israel on 7 October, triggering war in Gaza.

The exchanges have intensified in recent weeks, as Hezbollah has stepped up its use of drones to attack Israeli military positions, while Israel has hit back with targeted strikes against the militants.

Hezbollah said it launched "dozens of Katyusha rockets" at three bases and a barracks in northern Israel.

The Iran-backed group said it also struck a "military factory" with guided missiles "in response to the assassination carried out by the Zionist enemy".

The Israeli army said more than 150 "projectiles" had been fired from Lebanon in three successive barrages.

"A short while ago, approximately 90 projectiles were identified crossing from Lebanon," it said, adding that several were intercepted but others struck inside Israel sparking fires in parts of the north.

The initial barrage was followed by a second of around 70 projectiles and a third of around 10, the military added.

Knight of the resistance

The army said that in response it struck a rocket launcher in south Lebanon and "four terrorist infrastructure sites... from which projectiles were fired at northern Israel".

As temperatures have soared in recent days, the exchanges of fire have sparked multiple brush fires on both sides of the border.

"Israel Fire and Rescue Services are currently operating to extinguish the fires that broke out as a result of the launches," the military said.

Israel's Magen David Adom emergency medical service said there were no immediate reports of any casualties.

The latest barrages from Lebanon came after an Israeli air strike killed a senior Hezbollah commander on Tuesday.

Hezbollah identified the commander as Taleb Sami Abdallah, also known as Abu Taleb and born in 1969.

He was killed along with three Hezbollah comrades in an Israeli strike on Jouaiyya, 15 kilometres (nine miles) from the border, a source close to the group told AFP.

A Lebanese military source said the commander was "the most important in Hezbollah to be killed up to now since the start of the war".

The group called on its supporters to attend Abdallah's funeral in the southern suburbs of Beirut, describing him as "one of the knights of the resistance".

Hezbollah media channels published a photograph of Abdallah next to Wissam Tawil, another senior commander killed in an Israeli air strike in January.

Harsh blow

Pro-Hezbollah newspaper Al-Akhbar described the strike that killed Abdallah as "a harsh blow" to the group.

His killing "represents a... dangerous escalation on behalf of the enemy" raising "expectations that the confrontation will be managed differently," the paper said.

On Tuesday, Hezbollah said it fired some 50 rockets at Israeli positions in the annexed Golan Heights.

More than eight months of cross-border violence has killed at least 468 people in Lebanon, most of them fighters but also including 89 civilians, according to an AFP tally.

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

Tens of thousands of people have been displaced on both sides of the border since the violence erupted the day after the Hamas attack on southern Israel.

The 7 October attack resulted in the deaths of 1,194 people in Israel, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally based on official Israeli figures.

Israel's retaliatory offensive against Hamas has killed at least 37,164 people in Gaza, also mostly civilians, according to the Hamas-run territory's health ministry.