Israel and Hezbollah clash across Lebanon border

A wave of rockets and airstrikes hit the Israeli-Lebanese border on Saturday, as tensions escalated between Israel and Hezbollah following the assassination of a top Hamas official in Beirut.

A cross-border exchange of fire erupted on Saturday between Israel and Hezbollah, the Iranian-backed Lebanese group, following the killing of a senior Hamas leader in Beirut earlier this week.

The Israeli military said it detected about sixty projectiles fired from southern Lebanon towards the Meron region in northern Israel, and no other attacks or intrusions in other parts of the northern border.

The military said it responded by targeting a “terrorist squad that was involved in launching” the projectiles, as well as other sites belonging to Hezbollah, such as infrastructure, military positions and an operational command center in the Blida area of Lebanon.

Hezbollah, a close ally of the Palestinian Hamas movement, claimed responsibility for launching 62 rockets at the Meron air control base in northern Israel, saying it was a preliminary retaliation for the assassination of the “great leader” Sheikh Saleh al Aruri, the deputy chief of Hamas, who died in a bombing in Beirut on Tuesday.

Hezbollah’s leader, Hasan Nasrallah, had vowed that the killing of his “brother and friend” from Hamas “would not go unanswered” and had warned that a reprisal for the bombing was “surely coming.” The Israeli military issued several alerts throughout the morning as the alarm sirens went off in the north of the country.

The Israeli Army spokesman, Daniel Hagari, said Israel was on a “very high state of alert” on its northern border with Lebanon, facing the attacks by the terrorist group Hezbollah.

The Israeli military also used tanks and artillery to fire back at Hezbollah, and a fighter jet bombed the group’s command center in Lebanon.

The situation on the Israeli-Lebanese border is the most tense since the 2006 war between Israel and Hezbollah, after a surge of violence by pro-Palestinian militias following the outbreak of the war with Hamas on October 7. The violence escalated further after the bombing that killed Saleh Al Arouri, which was attributed to Israel, although Israel neither confirmed nor denied the operation.

The conflict has resulted in at least 177 deaths so far: 13 in Israel – 9 soldiers and 4 civilians – and 164 in Lebanon, including 127 Hezbollah fighters, 16 Palestinian militants, one soldier and 20 civilians – among them three journalists and three children.

Israel has mobilized more than 200,000 soldiers to its northern border, where the violence has also caused massive displacement, with about 80,000 people leaving their homes in northern Israel and more than 70,000 fleeing southern Lebanon.

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