Israel strikes deep into Lebanon

Published February 27, 2024
People stand next to the rubble at the site of an Israeli air strike in Lebanon’s Bekaa plain, on Monday.—AFP
People stand next to the rubble at the site of an Israeli air strike in Lebanon’s Bekaa plain, on Monday.—AFP

BEIRUT: Israeli warplanes struck Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley on Monday, killing at least two Hezbollah members in its deepest attack into Lebanese territory since hostilities erupted with the Iran-backed group last October, sources in Lebanon said.

Underlining the risks of escalation, Hezbollah responded by firing 60 rockets at an Israeli army headquarters in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, the group’s al-Manar television reported. An Israeli army spokesperson said dozens of rockets were fired towards the Golan Heights from Lebanon.

The attacks marked an intensification of the worst violence between the heavily armed Hezbollah and Israel since their 2006 war, fuelling concern of the potential for further escalation and regional spillover of the Gaza unrest.

The Israeli army said its fighter jets had struck Hezbollah air defences in the Bekaa Valley in response to the downing of an Israeli drone, which Hezbollah said it had shot down with a surface-to-air missile earlier on Monday.

Hezbollah responds by firing 60 rockets at Israeli army headquarters in Golan Heights

The airstrikes hit part of the Bekaa Valley region near the Syrian border which is a political stronghold of Hezbollah. The targeted area was some 18 km from the city of Baalbek, which is known for its ancient ruins.

The sources said Israel had carried out simultaneous strikes in the area. A Lebanese security source and a source familiar with the matter said two Hezbollah members had been killed.

Lebanese television station Al-Jadeed broadcast images of plumes of smoke rising from the area.

In a separate attack, an Israeli airstrike hit a car in the town of Mjadel in southern Lebanon, killing a Hezbollah field commander, three security sources in Lebanon said.

Israel’s military posted a video of the strike and said the target was Hassan Hossein Salami, who it said had been responsible for activities including missile launches directed at Israel.

Hezbollah politician Hassan Fadlallah said Israel had widened its strikes by hitting Baalbek and other areas, and was seeking to “compensate” for the downing of its drone.

“Its aggression on Baalbek or any other areas will not remain without response,” he said in televised remarks delivered at the funeral of a Hezbollah fighter killed in recent days.

Published in Dawn, February 27th, 2024

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