Israel and Hezbollah exchange fierce rounds of air strikes and rocket attacks

Israeli drone kills two Hezbollah fighters in a car after Lebanese militant group launches 60 rockets at three military bases in the occupied Golan Heights

Smoke rises from an Israeli border town following Hezbollah's attack. EPA
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An Israeli drone strike on a car killed two Hezbollah fighters in southern Lebanon on the Ramadiya-Qana road.

Hezbollah said in a statement that two of its fighters, Ali Fawzi Ayoub and Mohammad Hassan Ali Fares, were killed in clashes with Israel.

The Israeli military said that it carried out a drone strike on a vehicle with two Hezbollah operatives, saying they were “en route to carrying out an immediate terror attack” against Israel.

It added that it carried out strikes against 10 Hezbollah targets in southern Lebanon including buildings where operatives were gathered.

Hezbollah claimed responsibility earlier today for launching more than 60 rockets at three military bases in the occupied Golan Heights, in retaliation for overnight air strikes by Israel.

Israeli media reported sirens in northern communities.

The Lebanese militant group claimed the attack was in support of the “steadfast Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip” and was “in response to the Israeli enemy’s attacks last night” on the Bekaa region.

Israeli aircraft carried out overnight strikes on Lebanon's north-eastern Bekaa Valley in response to Hezbollah's deepest attack into Israeli territory since the start of the Gaza war.

The strikes hit the eastern mountain range between the towns of Britel and Al Khuraiba, a Hezbollah bastion bordering Syria, 100km from the border with Israel.

“The outskirts of the eastern Lebanon mountain range, at midnight [9pm GMT on Wednesday], was subjected to five enemy raids,” Lebanon’s official National News Agency reported.

The Israeli strikes injured a citizen and caused fires, it added.

The Israeli army said a target of the strikes was a Hezbollah weapons manufacturing plant used for building guided munitions and drones.

Hezbollah has claimed responsibility for a total of 12 attacks so far throughout Thursday on Israeli military positions, saying that they targeted “spy equipment” at each site.

Meanwhile, Lebanese media reported Israeli strikes in several villages in the south of the country.

According to the National News Agency, two civilians were injured in an Israeli bombardment on the Marjayoun Plain and subsequently hospitalised.

Deepest Hezbollah attack

The escalating tensions followed Hezbollah's drone attack on Wednesday on a military base west of Tiberias, which marked its deepest incursion into Israeli territory since the onset of the Gaza war in October.

One of Hezbollah's drones struck a military site near the Golani Junction in Lower Galilee, the Israeli army said. The second was downed by its air defences.

Hezbollah said it attacked part of the surveillance system used by the Israeli air force. The militant group added that the strikes “hit its limited targets accurately and achieved its objectives in this limited operation”.

Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah said in a televised address on Monday that “the resistance front remains steadfast in its support for the Gaza Strip and is escalating according to the field”.

Hezbollah opened a pressure front in support of its ally, Hamas, a day after the Palestinian group's October 7 attack on southern Israel that sparked the war in Gaza.

Hezbollah has consistently conditioned a ceasefire in Lebanon to a truce in Gaza.

“The link between the supportive Lebanese front and Gaza is definitive, final and conclusive,” Mr Nasrallah said in his speech. “No one will be able to de-link them.”

The outlook for peace remains uncertain with Gaza ceasefire negotiations between Israel and Hamas having stalled. Tensions on the Lebanese front have recently escalated as Israel bombs the city of Rafah ahead of an expected large-scale military operation against the city in southern Gaza, where about 1.4 million Palestinians had sought sanctuary.

For more than seven months, Hezbollah and Israel have been exchanging daily fire. At least 412 people have been killed in Lebanon. Most of the casualties have been militants, but 79 civilians have also been killed, AFP reported.

Israel has said 14 soldiers and 10 civilians have been killed on its side of the border.

Tens of thousands of people have been displaced in both countries.

Updated: May 16, 2024, 5:55 PM