2 Hezbollah commanders killed in IDF strikes as attack drones injure 3 in north

Military probing why sirens didn’t sound before drones struck near community of Beit Hillel; Lebanese terror group claims to target Iron Dome battery

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

A Hezbollah drones flies over the Galilee Panhandle (left), and the aftermath of an Israeli drone strike in southern Lebanon's Ain Baal, April 16, 2024. (Screenshot: X)
A Hezbollah drones flies over the Galilee Panhandle (left), and the aftermath of an Israeli drone strike in southern Lebanon's Ain Baal, April 16, 2024. (Screenshot: X)

The Israeli military and Lebanon’s Hezbollah exchanged fire on Tuesday, with the terror group launching two attack drones at northern Israel as two top commanders behind recent attacks were killed in separate airstrikes.

Three people were lightly hurt in the Hezbollah drone attack, according to media reports and local authorities.

The Israel Defense Forces said the two explosive-laden drones struck areas near the northern community of Beit Hillel.

Hezbollah claimed to have targeted an Iron Dome battery in the area. The terror group has made similar claims in recent months, which have been dismissed by the IDF as empty boasts.

The IDF said it was investigating why sirens did not sound during the attack.

Footage circulating on social media purported to show one of the drones flying over the Galilee Panhandle.

Shortly after the drone attack, Lebanese media reported that one person was killed in an Israeli drone strike on a vehicle in the town of Ain Baal, near Tyre, about 15 kilometers (nine miles) from the Israel border.

The IDF later confirmed it had carried out the strike, saying it targeted and killed the commander of Hezbollah’s coastal region.

Ismail Yousef Baz, whose rank is equivalent to a brigade commander, was “a senior and veteran official in the military wing of Hezbollah,” holding several positions, the latest being the commander of the coastal region, the army said.

“As part of his position, he was involved in advancing and planning rocket and anti-tank missile launches towards the State of Israel from the coastal area in Lebanon,” it said.

“During the war, he organized and planned a number of terror attacks against Israel,” the IDF added.

Hezbollah announced Baz’s death, saying he was killed “on the road to Jerusalem,” its term for operatives slain in Israeli strikes. The terror group did not refer to him as a commander.

Ismail Yousef Baz, a Hezbollah commander killed April 16, 2024. (Hezbollah media office)

Since October 8, Hezbollah has attacked Israeli communities and military posts along the border on a daily basis with rockets, drones, anti-tank missiles and other means, saying it is doing so to support Gaza amid the war there. The group is an Iranian proxy in Lebanon, and Palestinian terror groups Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad are backed by Iran.

Baz was the sixth Hezbollah officer with a rank equivalent to a brigade commander to be killed by Israel in recent months, according to the IDF. The military has said that more than 30 Hezbollah commanders have been killed in its strikes in the past six months.

Hours later, another drone strike was reported by Lebanese media on a vehicle in the town of Chehabiyeh, killing two members of Hezbollah.

The IDF later took responsibility for the strike, saying it had targeted a commander in Hezbollah’s elite Radwan force.

Muhammad Shahouri, according to the IDF, was the commander of Radwan’s western district rocket unit.

Shahouri was killed while driving in the village of Kfar Dounine, adjacent to Chehabiyeh, the military said, publishing footage of the strike.

The IDF said Shahouri was “responsible for the planning and execution of many rocket [attacks] toward the Israeli home front,” from the western and central areas of southern Lebanon.

Alongside Shahouri, another Hezbollah commander, Mahmoud Fadlallah, was killed in the strike. The IDF said he was also a member of Hezbollah’s rocket unit.

Hezbollah announced both their deaths.

The IDF said Tuesday it had also carried out strikes against buildings used by Hezbollah and where operatives were gathered in the towns of Ain Baal, Aalma ash-Shab, Hanine, and Yaroun.

The IDF said several rockets were fired at northern Israel throughout the day, causing no injuries.

It added that troops had shelled the launch sites with artillery.

Israel has threatened to go to war to force Hezbollah away from the border if it does not retreat and continues to threaten northern communities, from where some 70,000 people were evacuated to avoid the fighting.

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

Hezbollah has named 278 members who have been killed by Israel during the ongoing skirmishes, mostly in Lebanon, but some also in Syria. In Lebanon, another 54 operatives from other terror groups, a Lebanese soldier, and at least 60 civilians have been killed.

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