ISRAEL AT WAR - DAY 141

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Hezbollah fires 30 rockets at Israel in retaliation for reported hit on top officer

No injuries reported in barrage on northern Israel amid day of heightened tensions on border, after drone strike in southern Lebanon said to target two terror operatives

Smoke rises after an Israeli air strike in southern Lebanon, as seen from the Israeli side of the border, February 8, 2024. (Ayal Margolin/Flash90)
Smoke rises after an Israeli air strike in southern Lebanon, as seen from the Israeli side of the border, February 8, 2024. (Ayal Margolin/Flash90)

Hezbollah fired a barrage of at least 30 rockets from Lebanon at northern Israel late Thursday, hours after an apparent Israeli drone strike in the southern Lebanese town of Nabatieh was said to target two Hezbollah operatives, including a senior commander.

That drone strike was reportedly in retaliation for an earlier Hezbollah launch at a military base that left three IDF soldiers wounded — one seriously — as a rash of cross-border attacks throughout the day kept tensions at the border high.

There were no immediate reports of injuries caused by the rocket fire at the Upper Galilee town of Meron, which is located further south than most of the northern towns that have been impacted by Hezbollah rocket fire since October 8.

Hezbollah-led forces have been attacking Israeli communities and military posts along the border on a near-daily basis since October 8, a day after its ally, Palestinian terror group Hamas, launched its October 7 massacre, killing 1,200 people across southern Israel and abducting 253 people. Hezbollah says its attacks are to support Gaza amid the war Hamas triggered.

Hezbollah said in a statement that the rocket attack targeted an IDF base in Ein Zeitim and came in retaliation for the earlier “Zionist aggression.”

The IDF responded with artillery fire at the sites from which the rockets were launched, the military said.

This picture taken from the vicinity of Marjayoun in southern Lebanon on February 8, 2024 shows a rocket fired from above nearby Kafarshouba being intercepted by Israel’s Iron Dome. (Rabih Daher/AFP)

Earlier Thursday, Israeli Air Force commander Maj. Gen. Tomer Bar warned Hezbollah that Israel was prepared to significantly ratchet up its strikes against the terror group.

“Hezbollah will continue to pay with the loss of its systems. Dozens of aircraft are now operating in the skies of southern Lebanon, and as soon as the order is given, the dozens will turn into hundreds that will perform the missions within minutes of being scrambled,” Maj. Gen. Tomer Bar said at an internal IAF conference, according to a transcript published by the IDF.

The fighting has displaced tens of thousands of people from border communities in northern Israel.

Top Israeli officials have repeatedly threatened to go to war in Lebanon following the campaign to root out Hamas in Gaza, with the aim of driving Hezbollah away from the border in accordance with UN Security Council Resolution 1701, which ended the Second Lebanon War in 2006.

An Israeli mobile howitzer gets into position near the border with Lebanon in northern Israel, January 11, 2024. (AP Photo/Leo Correa)

Earlier Thursday, the army said the 36th Division had pulled out of Gaza and was immediately deployed “to deepen its readiness for operational plans against the northern enemy,” likely a reference to Hezbollah.

Israel has said it cannot tolerate Hezbollah forces along its border, where they could launch a murderous attack on civilians in a similar vein to Hamas’s October 7 onslaught.

It has increasingly warned that if the international community does not push Hezbollah away from the border through diplomatic means, Israel will take action.

Due to the concerns of another war between Israel and Hezbollah, Lebanese officials said Thursday that foreign diplomats have intensified their efforts to restore calm to the volatile Lebanon-Israel border in parallel with the ongoing negotiations for a hostage deal and accompanying truce in Gaza.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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