Israel launches deepest strikes into Lebanon after Hezbollah brings down drone

At least five people have been killed in attacks on a convoy that entered from Syria

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At least five people were killed on Monday when Israel launched its deepest attack into Lebanon since cross-border violence began between Israel and Iran-backed Hezbollah on October 8.

The attack struck a convoy of lorries that entered north-eastern Lebanon from Syria, as well as a building.

Two members of Hezbollah were killed, along with three Syrians, the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said. Hezbollah said three of its fighters were killed.

Hezbollah on Tuesday said it had launched dozens of Katyusha rockets at the military barracks of the 210th Golan Division in response to Israel's attacks on the Bekaa Valley in Lebanon.

The Israeli military said it identified around 50 projectiles crossing from Lebanon into the occupied Golan Heights. It said several were intercepted and others fell in open areas, with no immediate reports of injuries or damage.

The Israeli military said its “fighter jets struck a military complex of the Hezbollah 4400 unit, the logistical reinforcement unit of the Hezbollah terrorist organisation”.

“The unit is used to smuggle weapons to and from Lebanon,” the military said, adding that it hit two sites in the Baalbek region, in eastern Lebanon.

The attack came after Hezbollah shot down an advanced $5 million Hermes 900 drone. The Israeli military confirmed the news, saying “a surface-to-air missile was launched toward an Israeli Air Force UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle) that was operating in Lebanese airspace. As a result, the UAV was damaged and fell in Lebanese territory”.

The Lebanese group also launched an attack with a “squadron of drones” on an Israeli military post in the occupied Golan Heights.

Hezbollah said on Tuesday that it launched a deadly strike on Israeli soldiers in northern Israel.

On Tuesday afternoon, an employee of the south Lebanon water corporation was killed in the border town of Naqoura. Saleh Mahdi had been riding his motorcycle while working, the corporation said.

Around 90 civilians have been killed in south Lebanon since the conflict broke out in October, according to an AFP tally.

Hezbollah has long been active in Syria and is an ally of Syrian President Bashar Al Assad. Israel has also targeted Hezbollah fighters in Syria, as well as allied groups.

The cross-border attacks between Hezbollah and Israel began have steadily expanded in scope and intensity since October. Israel has regularly hit sites deeper into Lebanon, while Hezbollah has used more advanced weaponry over time. Last Thursday, Hezbollah used anti-aircraft missiles against Israeli fighter jets for the first time.

Hezbollah said it was carrying out the attacks in support of its embattled Palestinian ally Hamas in Gaza. The Lebanese armed group and political party said it would not halt its strikes until Israel ended its brutal bombardment of the Palestinian enclave, where more than 37,100 people have been killed.

The fighting has displaced tens of thousands of people on both sides of the Israeli-Lebanese border.

Tehran supports Hamas as part of its so-called Axis of Resistance, a coalition of Iran-led groups including Hezbollah in Lebanon.

Hamas deputy leader Saleh Al Arouri was killed in an Israeli strike on Beirut in January.

Hezbollah has said it does not want an all-out war, but is ready for one if it happens. The two sides last fought a war in 2006.

Hardline ministers in the Israeli government have called for a ground offensive into southern Lebanon to clear the area of the threat from Hezbollah so that residents of northern Israel can return.

The flare-up of violence and fears of escalation come as Lebanon continues to grapple with a severe economic crisis that emerged in 2019. It has also been without a president since October 2022.

Updated: June 11, 2024, 12:29 PM