Hezbollah fires 200 rockets at Israel after senior commander killed

The military confrontation between Israel and Lebanon’s Hezbollah is escalating with both saying they are prepared for war.

Smoke and fire covers an area near Kiryat Shmona in northern Israel after a Hezbollah attack earlier this month [Ayal Margolin/Reuters]

Hezbollah has launched one of its largest rocket barrages at northern Israel since the start of the war on Gaza.

The launch of more than 200 projectiles on Wednesday morning came in response to the killing of a senior Hezbollah commander in southeastern Lebanon in a strike the previous evening. The attacks raise concern that the military confrontation between Israel and Hezbollah is escalating, with both saying they are prepared for war.

The Israeli military confirmed on Wednesday it had killed Taleb Abdullah as well as three other Hezbollah fighters in the strike.

It also said at least 215 rockets were fired from Lebanese territory as sirens sounded in dozens of communities across the north of the country. The military said many were intercepted but several landed, causing fires. No casualties were reported.

Aerial footage of Israeli warplanes attacking what the military said was the launch site of the rockets in southern Lebanon’s Yaroun was then shown.

Hezbollah, an armed Lebanon-based group with links to Iran, confirmed in a statement early on Wednesday that Abdullah had been killed in an air strike hours earlier on the town of Jouaiyya.

Abdullah, also known as Hajj Abu Taleb, was reportedly the commander of a Hezbollah division covering the western sector of the front line between the border with Israel and the Litani River.

He is only the second operative killed since October 7 to be mourned as a commander by Hezbollah. The other was Wissam al-Tawil, the deputy head of the elite Radwan unit, who was killed in an Israeli air strike in southern Lebanon in January.

The armed group also confirmed the deaths of three other operatives in the Israeli air strike late on Tuesday.

The escalation in attacks comes after Israel and Hezbollah both expressed readiness to expand their military confrontation as the war in Gaza raises tensions.

Thus far, fighting on the ground has remained limited to skirmishes on the border. But Hezbollah has been trying to challenge Israel’s air superiority over Lebanese skies.

The group released footage showing its downing of a third Israeli-made Hermes 900 reconnaissance and attack drone over Lebanon on Tuesday, using a surface-to-air missile.

This week, it fired several missiles at Israeli fighter planes in an effort to ward them off.

The Israeli military confirmed the incidents, saying no harm came to its aircraft.

Late on Tuesday, the Israeli military said it attacked an area in southern Lebanon from which Hezbollah was preparing a launch.

It also confirmed that 15 rockets were launched by the armed group, some of which it said were intercepted as others landed in open areas.

The Israeli military continues to pound areas across the Gaza Strip with no immediate signs of the war ending.

Hamas said it presented its response to the latest ceasefire proposal to mediators, which will also include an exchange of prisoners and a plan for the reconstruction of the enclave.

Source: Al Jazeera