9 soldiers injured rescuing elderly man wounded in Hezbollah strike on church

Terrorists fire missile at St. Mary’s church in the north; IDF slams terror group’s ‘cynical exploitation of Lebanese civilians and holy sites’

An undated photo of the St. Mary's Greek Orthodox church in Irqit, northern Israel (Photo: Avishai Teicher, Creative Commons, File)
An undated photo of the St. Mary's Greek Orthodox church in Irqit, northern Israel (Photo: Avishai Teicher, Creative Commons, File)

Nine IDF soldiers were wounded, one seriously, in an anti-tank guided missile attack in northern Israel on Tuesday, while evacuating a civilian who had been injured in an earlier Hezbollah attack on a church, the army said.

In the earlier attack, Hezbollah fired a missile from Lebanon at the St. Mary’s Greek Orthodox Church in Iqrit, moderately wounding a civilian in his 80s who was near the building.

Hezbollah claimed to have targeted an IDF position near the northern community of Shomera, but the projectile hit the nearby depopulated Palestinian Christian village.

As troops arrived at the scene to evacuate the wounded man, Hezbollah fired additional missiles, wounding the nine soldiers. One was listed in serious condition, while the other eight were in light-to-moderate condition.

Hezbollah has carried out daily rocket, missile and drone attacks on northern Israel in recent months, while the IDF has been battling the Hamas terror group in the Gaza Strip.

The IDF said it targeted a Hezbollah site in Lebanon in response to the attack, as well as a building into which the operative who had launched the missile at the church fled.

The military said that Hezbollah also fired a missile from near a mosque in southern Lebanon’s Yaroun at the Dovev area in northern Israel.

“This is further proof of Hezbollah’s cynical exploitation of Lebanese civilians and holy sites for its terrorist activity,” the IDF said.

Projectiles were also fired at the Yiftah and Mount Dov areas on the border Tuesday. The IDF said it was shelling the launch sites with artillery in response.

Smoke rises during an exchange of fire between the IDF and Hezbollah terrorists on the border between Israel and Lebanon, December 26, 2023. (Ayal Margolin/Flash90)

Separately Tuesday, the IDF announced that a soldier seriously wounded in a Hezbollah rocket attack on northern Israel on Friday had succumbed to his injuries.

He was named as Staff Sgt. Daniel Nachmani, 21, of the 188th Armored Brigade’s 71st Battalion, from Kfar Saba. In the December 22 attack on an army position near Shtula, another soldier of the 71st Battalion, Sgt. Amit Hod Ziv, was also killed.

Since October 7, 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 four civilian deaths on the Israeli side, as well as the deaths of nine IDF soldiers. There have also been several rocket attacks from Syria, without any injuries.

Hezbollah has named 126 members who have been killed by Israel during the ongoing skirmishes, mostly in Lebanon but some also in Syria. In Lebanon, another 16 Palestinian terror operatives, a Lebanese soldier, and at least 17 civilians, three of whom were journalists, have been killed.

Meanwhile, residents of northern Israel who have been evacuated amid the persistent cross-border attacks from Lebanon protested against the government outside Kibbutz Amiad in the Galilee on Tuesday, claiming that they had been abandoned.

Residents of communities in northern Israel and supporters protest calling for better care of the state in Amiad junction, northern Israel, December 26, 2023. (David Cohen/Flash90)

Some 200,000 Israelis from 105 communities near the Gaza and Lebanon borders in the south and north have been internally displaced since October 7, according to authorities.

In footage of the demonstration posted on social media, dozens of protesters could be seen lining the side of the highway, waving Israeli flags and shouting.

According to Hebrew media reports, the protesters called for the government to be dissolved and for a new one to take its place, charging that it failed to protect the residents of southern Israel on October 7 and will fail to protect those in the north as well.

The war erupted with Hamas’s October 7 massacre, which saw some 3,000 terrorists burst across the border into Israel from the Gaza Strip by land, air and sea, killing some 1,200 people and seizing over 240 hostages of all ages under the cover of a deluge of thousands of rockets fired at Israeli towns and cities.

As Israel launched a military campaign, including a ground incursion, to destroy Hamas, remove it from power in Gaza and release the hostages, it also rushed forces to the north as a precaution against Hezbollah mimicking the Hamas attack.

Israel has increasingly warned that if the international community does not push Hezbollah — which, like Hamas, is sworn to Israel’s destruction — away from the border through diplomatic means, it will take action.

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