Israeli military says it hit Hezbollah site in central Lebanon

Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah has vowed to continue fighting against Israel until Gaza ceasefire.

The Israeli military has said it hit a Hezbollah site deep inside Lebanese territory, the latest in a volley of strikes between the two sides amid Israel’s war on Gaza.

In a post on Telegram on Wednesday, Israel’s military said the attack on Tuesday night targeted one of the Lebanese armed group’s air defence systems near the central village of Janta, which is located about 79km (49 miles) from the capital, Beirut.

This marked a deeper-than-usual incursion into Lebanese territory, where most of the attacks have so far been confined to the south.

In parallel overnight strikes, Israel’s air force attacked a Hezbollah air defence site in the southern town of Baraachit and a weapons depot in the Kfar Kila area, it said.

Reporting from the southern Lebanese town of Marjayoun, Al Jazeera’s Assed Baig said Israeli artillery, drone and missile attacks also hit the areas of Yaroun, Haddatha, Hula, Toulin and al-Nabi Shayth in the Bekaa Valley.

‘Fears of escalation’

The spate of strikes comes a day after Israel and Hezbollah traded fire in Syria and the Israel-annexed Golan Heights.

Israel first carried out an air raid targeting a Hezbollah vehicle close to the Syria-Lebanon border on Tuesday, killing at least two people, according to a Syrian war monitor.

A Hezbollah official, speaking to The Associated Press news agency on condition of anonymity, said one of the victims was a former bodyguard of the group’s leader, Hassan Nasrallah. Hezbollah later named him as Yasser Nimr Qarnabsh.

In retaliation, Hezbollah fired rockets at an Israeli military base in the Golan Heights, killing two people, according to Israeli police. Israel’s rescue service said the victims were civilians.

“The fear is there could really be an escalation,” said Baig. “Hezbollah has been very clear that this front is in support of the Palestinians in Gaza” and that it will not stop “targeting the Israeli military as long as there isn’t a ceasefire”.

‘We will continue fighting until needed’

Tensions have risen between Israel and Hezbollah as the war has dragged on and the exchanges of fire across the Lebanon-Israel border have become more frequent and intense in recent weeks.

Hezbollah has frequently said that its attacks on northern Israel will cease once Israel ends its war on Gaza.

In a televised address on Wednesday, Nasrallah said that Israel has achieved “no victory” in Gaza.

Regarding negotiations between Israel and Hamas over a potential ceasefire in the Gaza Strip, Nasrallah said, “Hamas is negotiating on behalf of the whole axis of resistance – whatever it agrees to we will agree”.

“They update us and like to hear our opinions” he continued. “We tell them to make the decision because we don’t want anyone to say our front is tired … we will continue fighting until needed”.

In recent weeks, top Israeli officials have also vowed to escalate to full-blown war in Lebanon if a diplomatic solution is not reached which involves a pull-back of Hezbollah forces from the border.

Sultan Barakat, a professor in conflict and humanitarian studies at Qatar Foundation’s Hamad Bin Khalifa University, said the cross-border exchanges of fire are still part of a policy of deterrence towards each other, said

“Israel has demonstrated to Hezbollah what it’s capable of doing by attacking Gaza and Israeli ministers have repeatedly threatened to do to Lebanon what they have done to Gaza,” Barakat told Al Jazeera.

“At the same time, Hezbollah needs to deter Israel from taking it any further by demonstrating its ability to gather intelligence deep into Israel, to identify targets and to reach those targets,” he added.

At least 543 people have been killed in Israeli strikes on southern Lebanon since October, while attacks from Hezbollah and other armed groups in Lebanon have killed at least 21 people in Israel.

Tens of thousands of Israeli and Lebanese civilians have been evacuated from border towns on both sides due to the hostilities.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies