04 July 2024

Hezbollah fires 200 rockets into Israel after killing of senior commander

04 July 2024

The Lebanese Hezbollah group says it has launched more than 200 rockets at several military bases in Israel in retaliation over a strike that killed one of its senior commanders.

The attack by the Iran-backed militant group on Thursday was one of the largest in the months-long conflict along the Lebanon-Israel border, with tensions boiling in recent weeks.

The Israeli military said “numerous projectiles and suspicious aerial targets” had entered its territory from Lebanon, many of which it said were intercepted. There were no immediate reports of casualties.

It acknowledged on Wednesday that it had killed Mohammad Naameh Nasser, who headed one of Hezbollah’s three regional divisions in southern Lebanon, a day earlier.

Hours later, Hezbollah launched scores of Katyusha rockets and Falaq rockets with heavy warheads into northern Israel and the occupied Syrian Golan Heights. It launched more rockets on Thursday.

Meanwhile, the health ministry in Hamas-run Gaza said that the Palestinian death toll from nearly nine months of war has surged past 38,000.

The ministry said that in the last 24 hours, the bodies of 58 people had been brought to hospitals, bringing the overall death toll to 38,011.

It said more than 87,000 people have been wounded in the fighting.

The ministry does not distinguish between fighters and non-combatants in its count, but many of the dead are said to be women and children.

The US and France are continuing to scramble to prevent the skirmishes involving Hezbollah from spiralling into an all-out war, which they fear could spill over across the Arab world.

The relatively low-level conflict erupted shortly after the outbreak of the war in Gaza. Hezbollah says it is striking Israel in solidarity with Hamas, another Iran-allied group that ignited the war in Gaza with its October 7 attack into southern Israel.

The fighting has displaced tens of thousands of people on both sides of the border. In northern Israel, 16 soldiers and 11 civilians have been killed.

In Lebanon, more than 450 people – mostly fighters but also dozens of civilians – have been killed.

Israeli officials, meanwhile, say they could decide to go to war in Lebanon if efforts for a diplomatic solution fail.

Hezbollah’s retaliation comes a day after a senior adviser to US President Joe Biden, Amos Hochstein, met with French President Emmanuel Macron’s Lebanon envoy, Jean-Yves Le Drian, in Paris.

Israel sees Hezbollah as its most direct threat and estimates that it has an arsenal of 150,000 rockets and missiles, including precision-guided missiles.

In 2006, Israel and Hezbollah fought a month-long war that ended in stalemate.

Meanwhile, Israel’s cabinet is set to convene to discuss Hamas’ latest response to the US-backed proposal for a phased ceasefire in Gaza, as diplomatic efforts aimed at ending the nine-month war stirred back to life.

The US has rallied world support behind a plan that would see the release of all of the scores of hostages still held by the militant group in return for a lasting truce and the withdrawal of Israeli forces from Gaza. But until now, neither side appears to have fully embraced it.

Hamas suggested “amendments” last month, some of which the US said were unworkable, without providing specifics. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has confirmed that the original proposal was an Israeli one, but has raised doubts over whether it would end the war – a key Hamas demand.

The daily exchanges of strikes between Hezbollah and Israeli forces have sparked fires that are tearing through forests and farmland on both sides of the frontline (AP) (AP)

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