Nine Israeli military sites attacked with rockets and drones, says Hezbollah

International

BEIRUT: Hezbollah said it had launched rockets and weaponised drones at nine Israeli military sites in a coordinated attack on Thursday, ramping up hostilities on Lebanon’s southern border for the second consecutive day.

The attacks were carried out in retaliation for an Israeli strike on Tuesday that killed a senior Hezbollah field commander. A security source told Lebanon it was the largest attack waged by Hezbollah since October, when the group started exchanging fire with Israel in parallel with the Gaza war.

Hezbollah said in a statement it had fired volleys of Katyusha and Falaq rockets at six Israeli military locations. Its Al-Manar television reported more than 100 rockets fired at once.

Hezbollah’s statement said it had also launched attack drones at the headquarters of Israel’s northern command, an intelligence headquarters and a military barracks.

A security source told Reuters that involved firing at least 30 attack drones at once, making it the group’s largest drone attack to date in the eight-month-old war.

The Iran-backed Hezbollah and Israel have been trading near-daily fire since the eruption of the Gaza war in October, but the last two days have seen a sharp rise following the Israeli strike that killed the Hezbollah commander.

On Wednesday, Hezbollah said it carried out at least eight attacks that day in retaliation.

Air raid sirens sounded across cities in northern Israel on Thursday and Israeli officials said about 40 rockets had been fired from Lebanon in the afternoon.

State broadcaster Kan aired footage of numerous mid-air interceptions of rockets above Israeli towns, including in Safed, some 12 km (7.5 miles) from the border.

Two people were wounded by shrapnel, Israel’s national ambulance service said.

Israeli strikes have killed more than 300 Hezbollah fighters in Lebanon – more than it lost in 2006, when the sides last fought a major war, according to a Reuters tally. The number of civilians killed is around 80, the tally says. Attacks from Lebanon have killed 18 Israeli soldiers and 10 civilians, Israel says.

The exchanges of fire have also displaced tens of thousands of people on both sides of the border.

“Diplomatically or militarily, peace will be returned to our north. Israel will defend itself. There should not be any doubt about this whatsoever. This (situation) cannot be a sustained reality,” Israeli government spokesperson David Mencer said.

Group of Seven leaders meeting in Italy said in a draft communique that they were very concerned by the situation on the Israel-Lebanon border.__Tribune.com