Anti-tank missile hits home in town of Avivim; nobody hurt

Hezbollah operative killed in IDF strike in Lebanon, but main target said to survive

Death of Fadl Ali Salman brings terror group’s death toll since October 8 to 164; IDF says it carried out shelling, airstrikes in several southern Lebanese villages

A screengrab from a video showing an alleged Israeli strike on a car in south Lebanon on January 21, 2024 (Used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)
A screengrab from a video showing an alleged Israeli strike on a car in south Lebanon on January 21, 2024 (Used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)

A Hezbollah operative was killed in an apparent Israeli drone strike in southern Lebanon on Sunday, the terror group confirmed, although a security official said the target was a high-level commander who survived.

The drone attack was carried out early on Sunday afternoon in the southern Lebanon village of Kafra, located in the Bint Jbeil district, a known Hezbollah stronghold. The car was said to have been traveling close to a Lebanese army checkpoint at the time of the attack.

A short while after the incident, Hezbollah confirmed the death of Fadl Ali Salman, saying that he was “killed on the road to Jerusalem,” which is a phrase the terror group uses to refer to operatives killed in its conflict with Israel.

A Lebanese security official told AFP that a senior commander he was protecting “escaped death.”

A source close to Hezbollah also confirmed to the news agency that a Hezbollah fighter had been killed, but denied that a high-level official had been the target of the strike.

Both sources spoke on condition of anonymity for security concerns.

According to the security official, the Hezbollah commander was in a vehicle with three other people, behind the car that was hit.

Israel did not claim responsibility for the drone strike or comment on it.

However, on Sunday evening, the IDF said it had carried out two waves of strikes against Hezbollah targets in the southern Lebanon village of Markaba earlier in the day.

The sites hit by fighter jets in Markaba include a military building, observation posts, rocket launch positions, and other infrastructure belonging to the terror group, the IDF said.

It also stated that it had carried out additional strikes, using tank shelling and aircraft, in other areas of southern Lebanon, hitting a Hezbollah command center and another building used by the terror group.

The area in which the strike against Salman was carried out has been targeted with frequent strikes in recent weeks as Israel responds to near-daily attacks launched by Hezbollah and allied Palestinian groups in southern Lebanon.

On Saturday, an alleged Israeli strike on a vehicle in the port city of Tyre killed a member of Hezbollah who was later identified by the terror group as Ali Haderaj.

Public broadcaster Kan reported that Haderaj served as a coordinator between Hezbollah and Hamas in Lebanon on matters of electronic warfare and air defenses.

Bint Jbeil has been a known Hezbollah stronghold for decades, and during the 2006 Second Lebanon War, much of it was destroyed amid battles with Israeli forces as they tried to wrestle control from the terror group.

Separately Sunday, an anti-tank missile was fired at the northern Israel community of Avivim, directly striking a residential building.

Nobody was injured in the attack, although the building sustained damage. Hezbollah claimed responsibility for the incident.

Since October 8, 2023, a day after the Hamas killing spree in southern Israel, Hezbollah has engaged in cross-border fire on a near-daily basis, launching rockets, drones and missiles at northern Israel in a campaign it says is in support of Hamas as they battle Israeli forces inside the Gaza Strip.

The attacks carried out by Hezbollah have forced some 80,000 residents of northern Israel to evacuate their homes, with no way of knowing when they will be able to safely return.

Israel has warned that it will not tolerate Hezbollah’s presence along the border and has repeatedly stated that Hezbollah will have to withdraw its forces from the border area north of the Litani River, as required by 2006’s UN Resolution 1701.

If Hezbollah cannot be made to retreat via diplomatic channels, Israel’s military leaders have repeatedly stated that they will be prepared to escalate the fighting.

This picture taken from a position in northern Israel along the border with Lebanon on January 21, 2024 shows smoke billowing over the Lebanese village of Markaba during reported Israeli strikes (Jalaa Marey / AFP)

International figures, including US special envoy Amos Hochstein and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, have been dispatched to the region in recent weeks in an attempt to cool the tensions along the Israel-Lebanon border, but seemingly to no avail, with neither side backing down from their stated position.

Hezbollah has maintained that it will continue to fire rockets at Israel until there is a full ceasefire in Gaza, where fighting began after Hamas massacred some 1,200 people and seized 253 hostages from inside Israel on October 7.

The Iran-backed terror group has claimed that its campaign on Israel’s northern front has aided the Palestinian cause by stretching Israeli forces and by forcing thousands of civilians to flee from their homes.

Figures shared by the IDF on the 100th day of war, a week ago, showed that in the months since October 7, more than 2,000 projectiles have been launched by Hezbollah and armed Palestinian groups along the Lebanon border.

Six civilians have been killed on the Israeli side, including a septuagenarian and her son who were killed last week when an anti-tank missile slammed into their home in Kfar Yuval. In addition to the civilian deaths, nine IDF soldiers and reservists have been killed.

Across the border, Hezbollah has named 164 members who have been killed in the ongoing skirmishes, mostly in Lebanon along with some in Syria. An additional 20 operatives from other terror groups in Lebanon have also been killed, as well as 19 civilians, three of whom were journalists.

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