Hezbollah fires barrage of 60 rockets at Golan; IDF eliminates terror commander

Military strikes source of rocket fire, buildings used by terror group in southern Lebanon; army confirms it killed Hassan Hussein Salami

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

This picture taken from an Israeli position along the border with southern Lebanon shows rockets fired from Lebanon into Israel on February 26, 2024. (Jalaa Marey/AFP)
This picture taken from an Israeli position along the border with southern Lebanon shows rockets fired from Lebanon into Israel on February 26, 2024. (Jalaa Marey/AFP)

Lebanon’s Iran-backed Hezbollah on Monday fired a barrage of 60 Katyusha rockets at the Golan Heights.

The terror group said in a statement the volley of rockets was in response to Israeli strikes in Lebanon’s east, the deepest confirmed attacks since the beginning of the cross-border clashes. It said it targeted an Israeli military base in the Golan “in response to the Zionist aggression near the city of Baalbek,” 100 kilometers (more than 62 miles) from the border earlier in the day.

Footage circulating on social media shows several rockets impacting and exploding near a bus carrying passengers, who quickly disembarked to take cover.

There were no reports of injuries in the barrage.

In addition to the unprecedented strikes in Baalbek, the Israel Defense Forces said it eliminated a senior Hezbollah commander, Hassan Hussein Salami, in an airstrike in southern Lebanon.

Salami, whose rank is equivalent to a brigade commander, was targeted while driving in the southern Lebanon village of Majadel.

The IDF said Salami was the commander of a regional unit in Hezbollah and oversaw attacks on IDF troops and Israeli communities in northern Israel.

Recent actions that Salami was involved in included anti-tank missile attacks on Kiryat Shmona and on the base of the 769th “Hiram” Regional Brigade, according to the IDF.

Hezbollah announced his death earlier — along with two members killed in the Baalbek strikes — but did not call him a commander.

Hassan Hussein Salami, a Hezbollah commander, who was killed in an IDF strike on February 26, 2024 (Hezbollah)

Later, the IDF said it struck further Hezbollah targets in southern Lebanon, including the site from which the barrage of rockets was launched.

Sites targeted by fighter jets in Ayta ash-Shab included buildings used by the terror group, the IDF said.

The rocket launch site from which Hezbollah fired some 60 rockets at the Golan was located in the village of Kawkaba, and it too was struck by a fighter jet.

The IDF said a tank also shelled a building used by Hezbollah in Kafr Kila earlier in the day.

Earlier Monday, Hezbollah downed an Israeli Air Force drone, an Elbit Hermes 450 model, over the Nabatieh area in southern Lebanon with a surface-to-air missile. The drones are used by the IAF for surveillance and attacks.

In response to the incident, the IDF said it launched the strikes on Hezbollah’s air defense unit near Baalbek.

The Israeli Air Force also struck the downed aircraft in the Nabatieh area, The Times of Israel learned. Such actions are taken to prevent sensitive tech from falling into the hands of the enemy.

Hezbollah politician Hassan Fadlallah said Israel had widened its strikes by hitting Baalbek and other areas and was seeking to “compensate” for the downing of its drone.

“Its aggression on Baalbek or any other areas will not remain without response,” he said in televised remarks delivered at the funeral of a Hezbollah fighter killed in recent days.

Lebanese soldiers and emergency service personnel inspect the rubble at the site of an Israeli air strike in the vicinity of Baalbek in eastern Lebanon, on February 26, 2024. (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 during the war there.

So far, the skirmishes on the border have resulted in six 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 219 members who have been killed by Israel during the ongoing skirmishes, mostly in Lebanon, but some also in Syria. In Lebanon, another 34 operatives from other terror groups, a Lebanese soldier, and more than 30 civilians, three of whom were journalists, have been killed.

Israel has warned that it will no longer tolerate the presence of Hezbollah along the Lebanon frontier, where it could attempt to carry out an attack similar to the massacre committed by Hamas on October 7.

A failure of international diplomacy to force Hezbollah away from the border would necessitate an Israeli offensive, the country has said.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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