Hezbollah fires rockets, drone at Galilee as Israeli jets pounds southern Lebanon

Rockets fired at Kiryat Shmona knocked down by Iron Dome; IDF says it targeted terror group arms depot site after seeing operatives go inside

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

Smoke rises after an Israeli airstrike in the Lebanese village of Ayta ash Shab on February 24, 2024. (Ayal Margolin/Flash90)
Smoke rises after an Israeli airstrike in the Lebanese village of Ayta ash Shab on February 24, 2024. (Ayal Margolin/Flash90)

Air defenses intercepted rockets shot at towns near the restive northern border and a fighter jet shot down a drone heading into Israel as fighting along Israel’s northern border showed no sign of slowing Saturday.

A number of rockets were fired from Lebanon toward Kiryat Shmona and surrounding areas late Saturday, with the Iron Dome air defense system successfully swatting away much of the barrage, the Israel Defense Forces said.

The attack came about two hours after the IDF carried out airstrikes on Hezbollah targets in south Lebanon, including a weapons depot where a cell of operatives were gathered, the military said.

There were no immediate reports of injuries or damage in the attack on Kiryat Shmona, which has been repeatedly rocked by projectiles launched from across the nearby border. The city, like most towns along the northern border in the Galilee, has been largely evacuated of civilians.

Throughout the day rockets were also fired from Lebanon at Arab al-Aramshe, Hanita, and the Mount Dov area. There are no reports of damage or injuries.

The exchange came amid daily attacks by the Hezbollah terror group on northern Israel as the country is simultaneously battling the Palestinian terror group Hamas in the Gaza Strip. The IDF has responded to the attacks while also increasingly taking the initiative, striking deeper into Lebanon, as it vows it will not accept Hezbollah’s presence along the border where the conflict has displaced tens of thousands of people from northern communities.


Hezbollah, meanwhile, has appeared to step up its use of armed drones, seemingly launching several into Israel in recent days.

Drone alerts went off in several towns in northern Israel Saturday morning and again in the early afternoon. The military said following the second alert that a “suspicious aerial target” that was heading toward Israeli airspace from Lebanon was downed by a fighter jet in Lebanese airspace. The first alert was apparently a false alarm.

An Israeli fighter jet also struck a Hezbollah weapons depot in the southern Lebanese village of Matmoura after spotting a group of operatives entering the building, the IDF said.

The military noted there were significant secondary explosions after the initial strike indicating that weapons were located inside, and released a video of the bombing.

Fighter jets also struck several more buildings used by Hezbollah in Rab el-Thalathine, Ayta ash-Shab, and Blida, the IDF said.

The army said it also targeted a command center belonging to Hezbollah’s elite Radwan force in Baraachit, and rocket launching sites and other infrastructure in Jabal Blat.

Troops also shelled areas near Rachaya al-Foukhar with artillery to “remove threats,” the IDF added.

Hezbollah claimed attacks throughout Saturday. There were no reports of casualties by the terror group or in the Lebanese press.

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.

War erupted in Gaza when Hamas on October 7 carried out a devastating attack on Israel that killed 1,200 people, mostly civilians, amid horrific atrocities. Israel responded with a military offensive to destroy Hamas, remove it from power in Gaza, and free 253 hostages who were abducted by the thousands of attackers who burst into southern Israel during the Hamas assault.

Israel has warned it can no longer tolerate Hezbollah’s presence along its border and has warned that should a diplomatic solution not be reached, it will turn to military action to push Hezbollah northward.

Illustrative: Smoke billows following an Israeli air raid on a reported hangar close to the main coastal highway in the southern Lebanese town of Ghaziyeh on February 19, 2024. (Photo by Mahmoud ZAYYAT / AFP)

So far, the skirmishes on the Lebanese 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.

Foreign Minister Israel Katz warned the UN on Friday that if the global body, which has a peacekeeping force deployed along the Lebanese side of the border, does not act against Hezbollah then Israel will take matters into its own hands.

Hezbollah has named 211 members who have been killed by Israel during the ongoing skirmishes, mostly in Lebanon but some also in Syria. In Lebanon, another 32 operatives from other terror groups, a Lebanese soldier, and at least 30 civilians, three of whom were journalists, have been killed.

French, US, and other officials have been attempting for months to tamp down the possibility of any escalation along Israel’s northern border, but no breakthroughs appear to be on the horizon.

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