Hezbollah launches rocket barrage after Israeli strikes on Lebanon kill 7

Israeli assault hit health centre in southern Lebanon; Hezbollah attacks have killed one man in Israeli border town.

Hezbollah has said it launched dozens of rockets at Kiryat Shmona, an Israeli border town, in response to Israeli strikes on Lebanon’s southern village of al-Habbariyeh that killed seven people.

The Israeli military and the Iran-aligned Hezbollah, an ally of Hamas, have been exchanging near-daily fire across the border since October when the current conflict in Gaza started.

About 30 rockets were launched from Lebanon towards northern Israel on Wednesday, according to the Israeli military. Israeli emergency services said a 25-year-old factory worker in Kiryat Shmona was killed.

The Israeli army’s attacks on al-Habbariyeh hit a paramedic centre linked to a Lebanese Sunni Muslim group. The Emergency and Relief Corps said the victims were volunteers.

Reporting from al-Habbariyeh, Al Jazeera’s Zeina Khodr said young men were killed in the Israeli strikes that “totally destroyed” the emergency health centre.

“People here tell us that the men who were inside the building were paramedics, volunteers and university students, all in their early 20s,” Khodr said. “They were helping the people in this border region where we’ve seen daily exchanges of fire between Israel and … Hezbollah.”

While the Israeli army claimed it had killed a significant operative, Khodr reported that locals said “that is nothing but fabricated lies … this was a civilian target”.

Hezbollah promised to avenge the attack, saying it “will not pass without punishment”.

People gather on the rubble of a paramedic center that was destroyed by an Israeli airstrike early Wednesday in Hebbariye village, south Lebanon, Wednesday, March 27, 2024. The Israeli airstrike on a paramedic center linked to a Lebanese Sunni Muslim group killed several people of its members. The strike was one of the deadliest single attacks since violence erupted along the Lebanon-Israel border more than five months ago. (AP Photo/Mohammed Zaatari)
An Israeli air strike has destroyed a health centre in al-Habbariyeh, southern Lebanon [Mohammed Zaatari/AP Photo]

Lebanon’s Ministry of Health on Wednesday condemned the air strike and said “these unacceptable attacks violate international laws and norms, especially the Geneva Convention, which stresses the neutrality of health centres and health workers”.

Khodr reported: “This is not the first time a health centre has been hit in the ongoing confrontations along the border. We’ve seen numerous attacks against health centres especially in front-line villages and we have seen paramedics killed.”

The Israeli army claimed it struck “a military building” and killed a member of the al-Jamaa al-Islamiya, or the Islamic Group, a Lebanese political and armed outfit.

The target of the Israeli air strike had “promoted plots towards Israeli territory” and was “eliminated”, the military said in a post on social media, along with “other terrorists” who were in the building.

“These people will tell you that Israel’s strategy from day one has been to depopulate villages close to the border,” Khodr reported.

“They are trying to create some sort of a buffer zone, to make it difficult for civilians to live here. Nearly 100,000 people have already left. In this particular village, people are still here, but there is growing concern that it will start coming under fire,” she added.

Last month, Hezbollah’s leader Hassan Nasrallah said Israel will pay a price “in blood” for killing Lebanese civilians, signalling the conflict across the Lebanon-Israel border could intensify.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies