Hezbollah fires dozens of rockets at north in fresh barrages after Baalbek strike

No injuries or damage reported by Israel as terror group says sensitive air control base targeted in response to rare Israeli strikes in northeast Lebanon a day earlier

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

Rockets launched from Lebanon are seen being intercepted and impacting near Mount Meron in northern Israel, February 27, 2024. (Screenshot: X)
Rockets launched from Lebanon are seen being intercepted and impacting near Mount Meron in northern Israel, February 27, 2024. (Screenshot: X)

Dozens of rockets were fired at a Galilee military site Tuesday morning, sparking IDF reprisal airstrikes across southern Lebanon. Hours later another large barrage targeted the Western Galilee as Hezbollah continued to fire volleys in response to strikes deep inside Lebanon a day earlier.

The latest exchanges between Israel and the Iran-backed terror group marked a significant escalation of violence in the already restive northern border region, uncorking fresh war fears after months of steadily rising tensions that have largely been kept in check.

The Israel Defense Forces said some 35 rockets were fired in the morning attack, triggering sirens in the communities of Zivon, Sassa, Safsufa, and Dovev, areas close to Mount Meron.

The IDF said there had been no damage to a sensitive air traffic control base atop the mountain, which is located some eight kilometers (5 miles) from the Lebanon border.

Footage circulated on social media appeared to show several of the rockets being intercepted by the Iron Dome air defense system, while others appeared to strike the mountainside.

Hezbollah claimed responsibility for the barrage, saying it targeted the Mount Meron base in response to Israeli airstrikes on Monday near northeast Lebanon’s Baalbek — the deepest confirmed attacks in years — that killed two members of the terror group.

The Mount Meron air traffic control base has been targeted by Hezbollah several times amid the ongoing war, with slight damage caused in one of the attacks.

There were no reports of injuries in Tuesday’s attack.

The IDF later said it carried out airstrikes against Hezbollah sites in southern Lebanon in response to the rocket barrage, including a Hezbollah compound and other infrastructure belonging to the terror group in Jibchit, Mansouri, and other villages in south Lebanon.

Troops also shelled an area near Yaroun with artillery to “remove a threat.”

Lebanese media reported the Israeli strikes hit the village of Baisariyeh, some 30 kilometers from the Israeli border.

Footage posted to social media showed smoke rising from the targeted sites.

Hours later, another 20 rockets were fired by Hezbollah from Lebanon at the Western Galilee, setting off sirens in numerous communities.

The Iron Dome air defense system intercepted some projectiles, while others hit open areas. There were no reports of injuries.

Hezbollah had previously responded to the Israeli strike in Baalbek with a barrage of 60 Katyusha rockets at the Golan Heights on Monday afternoon. There were no reports of damage or injuries in the attack.

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.

Lebanese soldiers and emergency service personnel inspect the rubble at the site of an Israeli airstrike in the vicinity of Baalbek in eastern Lebanon, on February 26, 2024. (Photo by AFP)

In response to the Monday incident, the IDF said it launched the strikes on Hezbollah’s air defense unit near Baalbek, nearly 100 kilometers (more than 62 miles) from the border.

The IAF also struck the downed aircraft in the Nabatieh area, The Times of Israel learned, seemingly to prevent sensitive tech from falling into the hands of the enemy.

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

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.

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)

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 was 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 in the south on October 7.

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

Most Popular
read more: