Hezbollah fires rockets at north, as IDF holds surprise drill for war

Two impacts reported in Shlomi and Goren, causing property damage; Patriot missile intercepts ‘suspicious aerial target’ from Lebanon; 2 hurt in alleged Israeli strike in Syria

Israeli reserve soldiers train with their unit in urban warfare in northern Golan Heights, on March 27, 2024. (Michael Giladi/Flash90)
Illustrative: Israeli reserve soldiers train with their unit in urban warfare in northern Golan Heights, on March 27, 2024. (Michael Giladi/Flash90)

The Hezbollah terror group continued to batter northern communities with multiple rockets throughout the day Thursday, triggering incoming rocket sirens, and drawing shelling by the army in response.

In the afternoon, two rockets fell in the communities of Shlomi and Goren, causing heavy damage to property, the Ynet news site reported. No injuries were reported in the barrages. Northern communities have been largely vacated amid the long months of cross-border fire.

A video shared online showed damage in Goren to a house and a car near the impact site.

Meanwhile, the Israel Defense Forces said it carried out a surprise exercise aimed at preparing the military for war in the north.

The drill, led by the Operations Division, involved all the IDF’s commands, wings and directorates, as well as the General Staff.

“The purpose of the exercise was to strengthen the IDF’s readiness for various scenarios in the northern arena,” the military said.

In the afternoon, a Patriot air defense system successfully intercepted a “suspicious aerial target,” likely a drone, that was heading toward Israel from Lebanon, the IDF said.

Amid the incident, one of the Patriot missiles exploded over northern Israel. The IDF said the incident was under investigation.

The Israeli Air Force is in the midst of closing down several of its aging Patriot batteries, and its staff will be trained to operate on the Iron Dome instead.

A view of the trail left in the sky by a Patriot interceptor missile, as seen in the northern city of Safed, on March 28, 2024. (David Cohen/Flash90)

Meanwhile, in Syria, two people were injured in alleged Israeli airstrikes on Thursday near the town of al-Bahdaliyah, on the outskirts of Damascus, Syria’s Defense Ministry said.

In a statement, the ministry said that the strike led to “material losses” in a residential building.

Images posted to social media showed smoke rising from a targeted site.

Israel has for years carried out attacks on what it has described as Iran-linked targets in Syria, where Tehran’s influence has grown since it began supporting Syrian President Bashar Assad in a civil war that started in 2011, but rarely comments on them publicly.

The White House called Thursday on Israel and Lebanon to make it a high priority to restore calm amid the escalating exchanges.

“Restoring calm along that border remains a top priority for President Biden and for the administration and it has to be of utmost importance, we believe, as well for both Lebanon and Israel,” National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told reporters

People inspect destruction at the site of an overnight Israeli airstrike in Habbariyeh, Lebanon, on March 27, 2024. (AP Photo/Mohammed Zaatari)

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. Officials have said the country prefers a diplomatic solution, but is ready to launch a full-scale offensive if efforts fail.

Hezbollah officials have repeatedly said it will only agree to a diplomatic solution to border disputes upon an end to Israel’s ongoing offensive in Gaza.

Additionally, the United Nations on Thursday said it was “deeply disturbed” by attacks on healthcare facilities, a day after several strikes blamed on Israel killed 10 emergency rescue workers in southern Lebanon.

The IDF said the target of one of the strikes was “a military compound” and those killed were al-Jama’a al-Islamiyya terrorists.

It said a “significant terrorist operative” and other members of the terror group were planning attacks against Israel at the time of the strike.

Lebanese groups claimed three separate Israeli strikes on Wednesday, including on a health center in the border village of Habbariyeh, killed 11 civilians.

“Attacks on healthcare violate international humanitarian law and are unacceptable,” the UN official said in a statement.

This is partly true. A healthcare facility used for military purposes loses its protection under international law.

Several terror groups in Lebanon operate health centers and emergency response operations.

Hezbollah said four of its fighters and two rescuers were killed in Wednesday’s strikes, while its ally, the Amal movement, said it had lost two members, including a rescuer.

Israeli forces check a building that was hit by a Hezbollah rocket in Kiryat Shmona in northern Israel near the Lebanon border, on March 27, 2024. (Jalaa Marey/AFP)

Hezbollah responded to the deadly strikes by sending a barrage of rockets into northern Israel, killing a 25-year-old civilian in Kiryat Shmona on Wednesday.

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 eight civilian deaths on the Israeli side, as well as the deaths of ten IDF soldiers and reservists. There have also been several attacks from Syria, without any injuries. Hezbollah has named 257 members who have been killed by Israel during the ongoing skirmishes, mostly in Lebanon, but some also in Syria.

In Lebanon, another 50 operatives from other terror groups, a Lebanese soldier, and at least 50 civilians, three of whom were journalists, have been killed.


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