2 hurt as barrage of 75 rockets fired at north; IDF strike on Hezbollah said to kill 3

Iron Dome intercepts dozens of rockets in major Hezbollah barrage from Lebanon; Israeli strikes came after several drones were launched from Lebanon early Friday morning

Emanuel (Mannie) Fabian is The Times of Israel's military correspondent

Iron Dome anti-missile interceptors are seen from the Golan Heights town of Katzrin in northern Israel, May 17, 2024. (Michael Giladi/Flash90)
Iron Dome anti-missile interceptors are seen from the Golan Heights town of Katzrin in northern Israel, May 17, 2024. (Michael Giladi/Flash90)

A major barrage of some 75 rockets was fired toward northern Israel Friday afternoon, after Israeli airstrikes in Lebanon were reported to kill three people.

According to the IDF, dozens of the rockets were intercepted by the Iron Dome defense system.

The Magen David Adom ambulance service said it treated two people lightly hurt after they were wounded by one of the rocket impacts in the Upper Galilee. They were taken to Ziv Medical Center in Safed, MDA said.

The barrage is one of the largest carried out by Hezbollah on northern Israel amid the war.

Sirens sounded in the central Golan Heights community of Katzrin and several towns closer to the Lebanon border.

Katzrin is more than 20 kilometers (12 miles) from the Lebanon border.

Three separate drone strikes on a coastal village in southern Lebanon earlier Friday killed three people, including two Syrian citizens, Lebanese security officials said.

The strikes on the village of Najjarieh, about 40 kilometers (28 miles) north of the Israeli border, came a day after an especially intense exchange of cross-border strikes between Hezbollah and Israel.

The strikes hit a vehicle, a field and a small brick factory where two Syrian workers were killed, the officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity in line with regulations.

The Israeli military confirmed carrying out strikes against facilities in Najjarieh, which it said were used by a Hezbollah air defense unit. According to the Israel Defense Forces, several Hezbollah operatives were gathered at the sites in the coastal town, south of Sidon.

“These compounds were used by Hezbollah’s air defense array, and posed a threat to Israeli aircraft,” the IDF said.

The Lebanese man was identified as Hussein Khader Mahdi, a Hezbollah operative who was the owner of the factory. Hezbollah announced Mahdi’s death “on the road to Jerusalem,” its term for operatives slain in Israeli strikes.

Mahdi’s deaths bring the terror group’s toll since the beginning of the war in the Gaza Strip to 301.

The IDF said Hezbollah’s air defenses are located within “a civilian environment, while risking the lives of civilians in southern Lebanon.”

“The IDF will not tolerate a violation of aerial operational freedom and will operate to defend against any threat. We warn the citizens of Lebanon to refrain from cooperation with the Hezbollah terrorist organization and emphasize that in doing so, they endanger themselves and their surroundings,” the military added.

The strikes came after several drones were launched from Lebanon at the Western Galilee early Friday morning.

According to the IDF, at least one of the drones was downed by air defenses over the sea and a second drone crashed near the northern community of Ga’aton.

Another siren sounded shortly later, but the IDF said it was a false alarm.

Hezbollah has regularly been launching explosives-laden drones into Israel.

Touring the northern border later Friday, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant told troops to be patient, as Israel will still attempt to reach an agreement with Hezbollah for the terror group to stop its attacks on the north.

“I didn’t come here for no reason, we have to prepare and take into account that anything can happen,” he said to artillery forces after holding an assessment at the Northern Command in Safed and a tour of the border city of Kiryat Shmona.

“As I told the troops before we entered Gaza, and they didn’t believe me, I also tell you: Wait, we will [act],” Gallant said.

“We will reach a situation where we return our residents safely, we want to exhaust every chance to do it by an agreement because we know that war has prices and we prefer to avoid it, but you have to take into account that [war] could happen,” he said.

“I understand the amount of damage [in Israel], but on the other side, the damage and the number of terrorists who were killed are of completely different orders of magnitude,” Gallant added.

Defense Minister Yoav Gallant meets troops on the northern border, May 17, 2024. (Ariel Hermoni/Defense Ministry)

Since October 8, Hezbollah-led forces have attacked Israeli communities and military posts along the border on a near-daily basis, with the group saying it is doing so to support Gaza amid the war there.

So far, the skirmishes on the border have resulted in 10 civilian deaths on the Israeli side, as well as the deaths of 14 IDF soldiers and reservists. There have also been several attacks from Syria, without any injuries.

Hezbollah has named 300 members who have been killed by Israel during the ongoing skirmishes, mostly in Lebanon but some also in Syria. Mahdi’s death on Friday would raise the number to 301.

Another 60 operatives from other terror groups, a Lebanese soldier, and at least 60 civilians, three of whom were journalists, have also been killed in Lebanon.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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