Hezbollah fires 30 rockets at north after IDF drone strike kills allied terrorists

Airstrike in south Lebanon takes out two members of al-Jama’a al-Islamiyya; no injuries caused in barrage on Mount Hermon

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

Rockets are intercepted over northern Israel, April 26, 2024. (Screenshot: X used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)
Rockets are intercepted over northern Israel, April 26, 2024. (Screenshot: X used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)

Hezbollah launched a barrage of rockets at northern Israel on Friday night, hours after two members of an allied terror group were killed in an Israeli drone strike in southern Lebanon.

According to the Israel Defense Forces, some 30 rockets were launched in the attack, targeting the Mount Hermon area.

The Iron Dome air defense system intercepted some of the rockets, while others apparently hit open areas. There were no reports of injuries or damage.

Sirens did not sound in any towns, but alerts were activated in open areas and army bases on the mountain.

Hezbollah claimed responsibility for the barrage, saying it targeted Israeli army bases in the area with dozens of Katyusha rockets.

Hezbollah said the attack was a response to the killing of two members of the allied al-Jama’a al-Islamiyya terror group in an IDF drone strike earlier Friday.

The IDF said it had targeted a senior member of al-Jama’a al-Islamiyya, or Islamic Group, who was driving on a highway near the town of Meidoun, some 20 kilometers (12 miles) from the Israeli border.

Mosab Khalaf, according to the IDF, “led and advanced many attacks” from Lebanon against Israeli targets, mostly in the Mount Dov area.

The IDF said Khalaf was also coordinating attacks with Hamas’s Lebanon branch, and that his “elimination was carried out to cause a blow to the terror organization’s abilities to advance and carry out terror acts that it has planned recently against the State of Israel in the northern border area.”

In a statement, al-Jama’a al-Islamiyya confirmed the deaths of Mosab Khalaf, as well as of a second member, Bilal Khalaf, saying they were commanders in the group’s armed wing, the al-Fajr Forces.

The exchange of fire came less than a day after Hezbollah carried out a deadly missile attack on Mount Dov, killing an IDF contractor.

Sharif Sawaed had been carrying out “infrastructure activity” for the IDF in the Mount Dov area.

The activity was part of efforts by the IDF to improve its defenses on the border. Currently, there is no border fence in the Mount Dov area, also known as Shebaa Farms — an area claimed by Lebanon — which houses several military positions and no towns.

Also on Friday, Israeli fighter jets carried out strikes against buildings where Hezbollah operatives were gathered, in the southern Lebanon towns of Tayr Harfa and Ayta ash-Shab, the IDF said.

Tanks also shelled areas near Yarine and Dhayra to “remove threats,” the military added.

Smoke billows from the site of an Israeli airstrike on the southern Lebanese village of Tayr Harfa near the border on April 26, 2024. (Kawnat Haju/AFP)

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 nine civilian deaths on the Israeli side, as well as the deaths of 11 IDF soldiers and reservists. There have also been several attacks from Syria, without any injuries.

Hezbollah has named 288 members who have been killed by Israel during the ongoing skirmishes, mostly in Lebanon but some also in Syria. In Lebanon, another 56 operatives from other terror groups, a Lebanese soldier, and at least 60 civilians, three of whom were journalists, have been killed.

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.

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