Fires rage overnight across north after Hezbollah rocket and drone attacks

Most of the blazes that started Monday were brought under control, firefighting service says Tuesday morning; 11 treated for smoke inhalation, at least one home damaged by flames

Fires burn next to the northern city of Kiryat Shmona on June 3, 2024, following rocket and drone attacks from nearby Lebanon. (Jalaa Marey/AFP)
Fires burn next to the northern city of Kiryat Shmona on June 3, 2024, following rocket and drone attacks from nearby Lebanon. (Jalaa Marey/AFP)

Firefighters early Tuesday battled blazes across northern Israel, as they continued to rage after being sparked the day before by rockets and drones that Hezbollah launched from Lebanon. Most had been brought under control by the morning.

The Israel Fire and Rescue Services said overnight that over 30 firefighting crews were working to extinguish the fires, which led to the closure of several major roads in the Galilee area.

A statement from the fire department stressed there was no threat to lives or homes at the time, while adding that it was “working hard to protect communities and property.”

In Kiryat Shmona, firefighters spread throughout the mostly evacuated city to control the flames and protect them from reaching homes. The fire service earlier said that several yards, pergolas and the roof of at least one home were in flames.

In Kibbutz Kfar Giladi, north of the city, video footage shared on social media showed a local security team battling flames encroaching on the community.

Fires also broke out in the areas of Mount Adir and Amiad, where firefighters reported their main focus was on preventing the blaze from jumping to the moshav of Kahal.

The fire service said the blazes had raged since Monday afternoon, while noting the intense heatwave blanketing the area.

The Israel Defense Forces said that it was assisting in the firefighting efforts, adding that six reservists lightly hurt from smoke inhalation were taken to a hospital.

Ziv Medical Center in Safed said it had treated five citizens who were also lightly hurt from smoke inhalation.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office released a statement saying the premier had held an assessment with senior security officials “about the developments in northern Israel” and was updated about the firefighting efforts.

On Tuesday morning, the fire service said most of the blazes were brought under control, including the fire near Amiad, which it estimated burned some 4,000 dunams (nearly 990 acres).

The statement added that firefighters prevented fires in Kfar Giladi and Kiryat Shmona from spreading to homes there.

The fire department also said it was still fighting to gain control of a fire that broke out the day before at Keren Naftali.

The fires came amid intensifying cross-border skirmishes between Israel and Hezbollah, with the Iran-backed terror group firing numerous barrages at the Galilee and Golan Heights in recent days. According to the Israel Nature and Parks Authority, a series of rocket and drone attacks on Sunday caused bushfires that consumed 10,000 dunams (over 2,470 acres) of foliage in open areas, including nature reserves.

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 328 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 dozens of civilians have been killed.

Israel has expressed openness to a diplomatic solution to the conflict, but has threatened to go to war against Hezbollah to restore security to the north of Israel, where tens of thousands of civilians are currently displaced.

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