ISRAEL AT WAR - DAY 147

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Four soldiers lightly hurt in latest Hezbollah missile attack on Lebanon border

Israel responds to repeated anti-tank fire by shelling southern Lebanon; IDF chief: Terror group will face ‘destruction’; fighter jets strike sites in response to earlier attacks

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

Israeli soldiers patrol along a road near the border between Israel and Lebanon, in Israel, Oct. 16, 2023. (AP Photo/Francisco Seco)
Israeli soldiers patrol along a road near the border between Israel and Lebanon, in Israel, Oct. 16, 2023. (AP Photo/Francisco Seco)

The Hezbollah terror group fired an anti-tank guided missile from Lebanon at Israeli forces near Shtula, a moshav in northern Israel early Wednesday, wounding four soldiers, as tensions continued to heat up on the northern frontier amid repeated skirmishes.

Later Wednesday, Hezbollah launched several more missiles and attacked a number of Israeli army posts along the border with gunfire. There were no immediate reports of injuries in the later attacks.

The Israel Defense Forces confirmed that four soldiers were lightly hurt in the attack earlier attack.

The later attacks were directed at several army posts along the border, as well as against Kibbutz Manara and the Rosh HaNikra area, according to the IDF.

The IDF said that it had responded with artillery shelling at the sources of the missile fire and gunfire in southern Lebanon, and was carrying out strikes against Hezbollah sites.

Shtula, Manara, and Rosh HaNikra are three of 28 communities being evacuated from the north under the increasing threat of war.

Earlier, on Tuesday night, the IDF said fighter jets carried out strikes against Hezbollah sites and observation posts in south Lebanon in response to a number of attacks on the border.

The IDF published footage showing the airstrikes.

On Tuesday, Hezbollah launched six anti-tank guided missiles at Israeli towns and military posts along the border, wounding three people. The terror group also opened fire with light arms at a number of IDF posts along the border.

Also Tuesday, the IDF killed four gunmen who attempted to infiltrate into the north of the country via Lebanon, and two rockets and a drone were also launched at northern Israel.

The incidents were the latest in a series of increasingly frequent skirmishes on the northern border with the Iran-backed Hezbollah as well as Hamas operatives there. The tit-for-tat attacks have remained limited in scope, amid threats from Israel that Lebanon could suffer if Hezbollah steps up its attacks.

In total, at least five Israeli soldiers, 11 Hezbollah terrorists and five Palestinian terrorists have been killed in the exchanges. One Israeli civilian was killed in the Hezbollah attack Sunday, and two Lebanese civilians and a journalist were also reported killed by Israeli shelling.

A picture taken on October 15, 2023, shows smoke billowing near an Israeli military site close to the southern Lebanese border village of Aita al-Shaab, following shelling by Lebanon’s Iran-backed Hezbollah terror group. (AFP)

The attacks from Lebanon have come as Israel is waging war in Gaza against Hamas after the terror group’s murderous assault on the country on October 7 in which more than 1,300 people were massacred and at least 199 were kidnapped and taken to the Strip.

IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi said Tuesday that if Hezbollah “makes a mistake” it will face “destruction.”

“This is a war for our home, our civilians, our sovereignty, our deterrence and our existence,” Halevi said to officers at the Northern Command, referring to the ongoing war in the Gaza Strip.

“If Hezbollah makes a mistake and attacks… destruction, destruction, destruction,” Halevi said.

IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi is seen at the Northern Command in Safed, October 17, 2023. (Israel Defense Forces)

There have been escalating warnings from Iran regarding the possibility of the war being widened, as Israel prepares a ground offensive with the stated goal of toppling Hamas’s rule over the Palestinian enclave.

Israel and the US have both warned Iran and Hezbollah to remain on the sidelines, with Washington dispatching two aircraft carrier groups to the region, signaling it could step in to defend Israel.

As the area has heated up, the IDF and Defense Ministry announced Monday that they were planning to evacuate civilians who live in towns up to two kilometers (1.25 miles) from the Lebanese border, due to repeated rocket and missile attacks by Hezbollah and allied Palestinian factions in recent days.

The ministry’s National Emergency Management Authority (NEMA) said the estimated 27,000 residents would be taken to state-funded guesthouses.

Many residents in northern border towns had already evacuated southward, due to the escalating attacks from Lebanon.

With alert levels high, Hezbollah said Friday it would be “fully prepared” to join its Palestinian ally Hamas in the war against Israel when the time is right.

War erupted after Hamas’s October 7 massacre, which saw more than 1,500 terrorists burst across the border into Israel from the Gaza Strip by land, air and sea, killing over 1,300 people and seizing 200-250 hostages of all ages under the cover of a deluge of thousands of rockets fired at Israeli towns and cities. The vast majority of those killed as gunmen rampaged through border communities were civilians — men, women, children and the elderly.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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