Hezbollah says 4 fighters killed in IDF strikes on south Lebanon targets

Two sites hit by fighter jets in village of Beit Lif manned by operatives, says military; Iran-backed terror group names slain members, bringing death toll to 171

Illustrative: A photo taken from a position in northern Israel along the border with Lebanon on January 21, 2024. (Jalaa Marey/AFP)
Illustrative: A photo taken from a position in northern Israel along the border with Lebanon on January 21, 2024. (Jalaa Marey/AFP)

The Israel Defense Forces said troops carried out airstrikes on Hezbollah sites in southern Lebanon Friday, apparently killing four members of the Iranian-backed Lebanese terror group. The strikes came in response to earlier rocket fire from Lebanon.

Two sites hit by fighter jets in the village of Beit Lif were being manned by Hezbollah operatives, the IDF said. Another site was struck in Deir Aames.

Hezbollah named four members killed “on the road to Jerusalem,” its term for operatives slain in Israeli strikes.

Their deaths bring the terror group’s toll to 171 since October 8, when Hezbollah-led forces began launching daily attacks on Israeli communities and military posts along the border, with the terror group saying it is doing so to support Gaza amid Israel’s war with the Hamas terror group, triggered by its October 7 massacre. Most of the Hezbollah deaths have been in Lebanon but some also in Syria. In Lebanon, another 20 operatives from other terror groups, a Lebanese soldier, and at least 19 civilians, three of whom were journalists, have been killed.

The Hezbollah attacks on Israel have led to mass evacuations of nearly all residents in towns near the border.

Israel has responded by striking Hezbollah cells trying to launch attacks and also launched several waves of strikes at the terror group’s infrastructure inside Lebanon, including observation posts and command centers.

Israeli reserve soldiers take part in a military drill in the Golan Heights, January 24, 2024. (Ayal Margolin/Flash90)

So far, the skirmishes on the border have resulted in six civilian deaths on the Israeli side, as well as the deaths of nine IDF soldiers and reservists. There have also been several attacks from Syria, without injuries.

Earlier Friday, several rockets were fired from Lebanon at the Mount Hermon area in northern Israel with the IDF responding by shelling the launch sites with artillery.

Later, an IAF fighter jet struck a building used by the terror group in Bint Jbeil. On Thursday night, another building was struck in Khiam, the military said earlier.

Hezbollah has been trying to harm Israel’s aerial defenses with attacks in the Mount Hermon area. On Thursday, it launched two explosive-laden drones from Lebanon, which impacted open areas near the northern Israeli community of Kfar Blum, causing no injuries or damage.

Hezbollah claimed it had targeted an Iron Dome air defense system battery. In additional attacks Thursday, Hezbollah claimed to launch projectiles at Israeli military positions near the community of Shlomi and in the Mount Dov region.

Earlier this week, Hezbollah launched a projectile attack that caused damage to a sensitive IDF air traffic control base, marking the second such attack on the Mount Meron base in recent weeks.

The terror group said the attacks were in response to “recent assassinations and repeated attacks on civilians” in Lebanon and Syria.

The IDF confirmed the attack on Tuesday, saying slight damage was caused to the base’s infrastructure.

The view from Moshav Shtula: An observation tower erected by the Hezbollah terror group in southern Lebanon. (Dafna Talmon)

The continued violence along the border comes amid diplomatic efforts to avert a full-scale war with Hezbollah. Israel has been warning that it would be forced to move against Hezbollah with force if talks fail and there is no other way to allow residents evacuated from northern border communities to return.

UN resolution 1701, which ended the 2006 Second Lebanon War, required that Hezbollah be kept away from the border, but the Lebanese army and the UN have never enforced it. Israel has been pushing for allies with strong ties to Lebanon, like France, to step in amid the mounting violence

Earlier this month, Washington dispatched special envoy Amos Hochstein to the region as the US has intensified its diplomatic engagement in a bid to lower the roiling tensions. Hochstein, who was heavily involved in shepherding talks that culminated in Israel and Lebanon demarcating a maritime border in 2022, met with Lebanese and Israeli officials on the trip.

Last week, Lebanese officials said Hezbollah has rebuffed Washington’s initial proposal to stop clashes with Israel, and pull its fighters further from the border, but that it remains open to US diplomacy to avoid a ruinous war.

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