Hezbollah members killed in Israeli air strikes on Lebanon

Bombing followed militant incursion into Israel claimed by Palestinian Islamic Jihad

Smoke rises in Aita Al Shaab, South Lebanon. AP Photo
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At least three members of Lebanese armed group Hezbollah were killed in Israeli air strikes on southern Lebanon on Monday, a spokesman for the group said.

The strikes came after the Israeli military said it killed “a number of militants” who had crossed from Lebanon into Israel — an operation claimed by the armed wing of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad movement.

The Al Quds Brigades, the armed wing of Islamic Jihad, claimed they had injured seven Israeli soldiers.

The military launched dozens of air strikes on areas across the border following the incident, and said it was continuing to scan and attack the area with the help of armed helicopters.

Three members of Hezbollah were killed in the Israeli retaliation, spokesman Mohammed Afif told The National.

Israel hit southern Lebanon with another round of artillery fire on Monday night, in response to a new batch of rocket launches from Lebanese territory that hit Israel shortly beforehand.

Hezbollah did not immediately claim responsibility for the rocket fire, but Reuters, citing security sources, said the group carried out the attack.

The Lebanese Army earlier urged citizens in southern Lebanon to take safety precautions as Israeli "aerial and artillery bombardment" hit the outskirts of towns and villages, while Israel urged citizens living near the border to take cover until further notice as it beefed up its security presence there.

On the Lebanese side, cars filled with scared families sped down the winding mountain roads as combat helicopters pounded the area behind them in the Ayta Ashaab and Qouzah areas.

On the outskirts of Beit Lief, just outside the area of the strikes, a large family milled on the front porch of their home, watching the cars race by. They said they were not concerned.

“We’re at God’s mercy, but we’re used to this. We have been for 35 years,” said a resident who did not want to be named. “But of course we’re scared for our kids, other civilians.”

A Hezbollah-affiliated security official in Beit Lief, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said he was unfazed by the strikes.

“We’re not scared of the air strikes. We’re scared that the war will start and end without us getting the green light to enter [occupied Palestine],” he said.

Mr Afif had denied reports that the Lebanese armed group was involved in the clashes in southern Lebanon’s Dhayra region, which took place about 3.30pm.

“It was probably some overenthusiastic Palestinians,” he said. “The Israelis are all over the place. They claimed we fired rockets this morning and we didn’t.”

Tensions were already high in the border region before the latest sharp rise in violence in Israel and Gaza.

Earlier in the afternoon, there were reports of rockets being launched from southern Lebanon towards Israel. However, a Lebanese Army source said it was not confirmed that any attack had happened.

Al Manar, the TV station owned by Hezbollah, claimed the rumours that rockets had been fired stemmed from confusion within Israeli forces.

Iran-backed Hezbollah is a highly influential Lebanese armed group and political party that is deeply opposed to Israel. One of Hezbollah's main power bases is in southern Lebanon.

On Sunday, the Israeli army retaliated with artillery fire into Lebanon after missiles were fired by Hezbollah across the border into what Lebanon says are the Israel-occupied Shebaa Farms.

Hezbollah said it had launched artillery and guided missiles at Israel following Israeli air strikes on the Gaza Strip as an act of solidarity with the “Palestinian resistance and the struggling and patient Palestinian people.”

Arch enemies Israel and Hezbollah last fought a full-fledged war in 2006.

Updated: October 10, 2023, 3:50 AM