Explosive drones, rocket barrage from Lebanon spark fires in Golan Heights

IDF strikes several Hezbollah sites in southern Lebanon, reportedly killing 2; meeting with Biden in Paris, Macron pledges to ‘avoid a regional explosion, particularly in Lebanon’

Israeli firefighters battle flames in a field in the Banias area of the Golan Heights sparked by rockets launched from southern Lebanon on June 9, 2024. (Jalaa MAREY / AFP)
Israeli firefighters battle flames in a field in the Banias area of the Golan Heights sparked by rockets launched from southern Lebanon on June 9, 2024. (Jalaa MAREY / AFP)

Waves of rocket and drone attacks on northern Israel set off sirens repeatedly throughout Sunday and sparked fires in the Golan Heights, as Israel and Hezbollah once again traded fire throughout the day while international allies called for a de-escalation.

A day earlier, the Iran-backed Lebanese terror group boasted of using the heavy Falaq-2 rocket, which holds a 60-kilogram (132-pound) warhead, against Israel for the first time.

Around noon on Sunday, two explosive-laden drones launched from Lebanon at Israel struck areas in the northern Golan Heights, sparking fires, the Israel Defense Forces said.

A short while before the drone attack, a barrage of some 10 rockets was launched from Lebanon, hitting open areas in the northern Golan, the military added. The rocket attack also sparked a fire. The IDF said it was shelling the launch sites with artillery.

Repeated sirens that sounded in the northern communities of Avivim, Yir’on and Malkia on Sunday afternoon were all determined to be false alarms, the military later said.

Earlier Sunday, several rockets were launched from Lebanon at the Misgav Am area, striking open areas and causing no injuries, the IDF.

Smoke billows from the site of an Israeli airstrike on the southern Lebanese village of Khiam near the border on June 8, 2024. (Rabih DAHER / AFP)

Defense Minister Yoav Gallant held an assessment with military officials along the Lebanon border today, his office said, meeting with the chief of staff of the Northern Command, Brig. Gen. Sagiv Dahan and other senior military officials.

The defense minister was briefed on recent IDF operations in the area and Israel’s efforts to foil Hezbollah’s drone attacks, the ministry said.

The minister “emphasized [to the officers] the importance of continuing to eliminate Hezbollah terrorists and commanders,” his office added.

Defense Minister Yoav Gallant (left) walks with the acting commander of the 146th Division, Brig. Gen. Amit Fisher in northern Israel, June 9, 2024. (Shachar Yurman/Defense Ministry)

The IDF said Sunday morning that Israeli fighter jets struck several Hezbollah targets in southern Lebanon overnight and that morning. The IDF said the targets hit Saturday night included infrastructure in Aitaroun and buildings used by the terror group in Rab al-Thalathine, and on Sunday morning a rocket launcher in Houla was struck.

Lebanon’s state news agency NNA reported that two people were killed in the Saturday airstrike on the outskirts of Aitaroun. The agency also reported Saturday that “a large fire broke out at positions belonging to the Lebanese army and UNIFIL,” the UN peacekeeping mission, in the area of the border village of Mais al-Jabal.

A security source told AFP on condition of anonymity that fires broke out near military positions but have not reached them or caused any casualties. UNIFIL in a statement reported a “bushfire near one of their positions in Houla,” which was put out with help from Lebanese troops and civil defense forces, adding that the fire “didn’t cause any damage to UNIFIL assets or personnel.”

Earlier Saturday, fighter jets also struck Hezbollah infrastructure in Khiam, and tanks shelled a building used by the terror group in Kafr Kila, the IDF said.

The exchanges of fire came a day after French President Emmanuel Macron and US President Joe Biden met in Paris and said they would work to prevent a further escalation of tensions between Israel and Hezbollah, who have been engaged in cross-border attacks for the past eight months.

Since October 8, 10 civilians have been killed in Israel along the northern border, as have 15 IDF soldiers and reservists. Hezbollah has named 334 members who have been killed by Israel during the ongoing skirmishes, mostly in Lebanon but some also in Syria. In Lebanon, another 62 operatives from other terror groups, a Lebanese soldier, and around 90 civilians have been killed, according to an AFP tally.

US President Joe Biden (L), flanked by French President Emmanuel Macron, give press statements following a bilateral meeting at the Elysee Palace in Paris on June 8, 2024. (Saul Loeb/AFP)

“We are redoubling efforts together to avoid a regional explosion, particularly in Lebanon,” Macron said in a joint statement with Biden during the US president’s state visit to France.

Macron added that the sides were working on “advancing parameters” to reduce tensions and end an institutional vacuum in Lebanon. He said the two countries had developed “a close coordination” in the discussions “with Israel on one side and with Lebanon and all the parties involved on the other side.”

Biden made no mention of Lebanon in the short statement and also did not mention Iran, which Macron said was adopting a strategy of escalation in the region, citing Tehran’s attack on Israel and the development of its nuclear program. Iran is also a major financial and military backer of Hezbollah.

“Our two countries are determined to exert the necessary pressures to stop this trend,” Macron said.

But the rocket and drone attacks from Lebanon and Israel’s responding airstrikes showed no sign of abating over the weekend.

On Saturday, the IDF said that Israeli fighter jets carried out a wave of airstrikes in southern Lebanon targeting a cell and rocket launchers. The Hezbollah cell was identified entering a building used by the terror group in Markaba. A short while later the building was struck, according to the IDF. The IDF said fighter jets also hit four Hezbollah rocket launchers, in Chihine, Zibqin, Hanine and Houla.

Israeli firefighters battle flames in a field in the Banias area of the Golan Heights sparked by rockets launched from southern Lebanon on June 9, 2024. (Jalaa MAREY / AFP)

A Hezbollah barrage of five rockets on the Galilee Panhandle sparked a fire on Saturday evening, the military said. Several more anti-tank guided missiles were also launched at Malkia and Misgav Am, causing damage to buildings and sparking another fire in the latter. The IDF said it shelled the sources of fire with artillery.

Hezbollah on Saturday took responsibility for at least 10 attacks on northern Israel throughout the day, claiming to use heavy Falaq-2 rockets for the first time.

The terror group boasted that it fired a salvo of Falaq-2 rockets at an IDF base in the north. A security source told Reuters it was the first time the group had used this type of rocket, after firing the smaller Falaq-1 on dozens of previous occasions.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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