IDF kills key member of Hezbollah air defense in strike deep inside Lebanon

Maytham al-Attar targeted by drone while driving some 100km from Israeli border; terror group launches four explosive drones at north

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

The scene of an Israeli drone strike near the town of Shaat, in Lebanon's Baalbek district, July 6, 2024. (Social media; used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)
The scene of an Israeli drone strike near the town of Shaat, in Lebanon's Baalbek district, July 6, 2024. (Social media; used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)

A prominent member of the Hezbollah terror group’s air defense unit was killed in an Israeli drone strike in northeastern Lebanon on Saturday.

According to the Israel Defense Forces, Maytham Mustafa al-Attar was considered to be “a significant source of knowledge” in Hezbollah’s air defense unit and was involved in planning and carrying out attacks against Israel.

The IDF said al-Attar obtained his knowledge during visits to Iran, and was involved in helping the Lebanese terror group procure Iranian weapons.

Al-Attar was hit by a missile while driving near the entrance to the town of Shaat in the northeastern Baalbek district — a Hezbollah stronghold — around 100 kilometers from the Israeli border.

The IDF said his death was “a blow to the capabilities of Hezbollah’s air defense unit.”

Hezbollah announced al-Attar’s death, but not did not provide details on his role in the terror group.

A Hezbollah poster featuring Maytham Mustafa al-Attar, a member of its air defense unit who was killed by the IDF on July 6, 2024. (Hezbollah media office)

Hezbollah’s air defense unit has launched dozens of anti-aircraft missiles at Israeli Air Force drones and fighter jets amid ongoing fighting. So far, it has managed to shoot down five IAF drones over southern Lebanon.

Following the strike in Baalbek, the IDF announced that fighter jets had also struck Hezbollah infrastructure and an observation post in southern Lebanon’s Houla, and another observation post in Odaisseh.

Earlier Saturday, four explosive-laden drones were launched by Hezbollah from Lebanon at northern Israel, the military said.

Two were shot down by air defenses over the Galilee Panhandle area, while the other two struck open areas near the northern community of Beit Hillel, according to the IDF.

There were no injuries in the attack, which was claimed by Hezbollah. Sirens had sounded in several communities amid the incident.

The IDF also released footage showing one of the drones being intercepted.

Meanwhile, overnight, Israeli fighter jets and drones struck several Hezbollah targets in southern Lebanon, the IDF said Saturday morning.

The targets included a building used by the terror group in Kafr Kila, several operatives in Bint Jbeil, and other infrastructure in Bint Jbeil and Yarine, according to the military.

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 10 civilian deaths on the Israeli side, as well as the deaths of 16 IDF soldiers and reservists. There have also been several attacks from Syria, without any injuries.

Smoke and fire rises the morning after an attack from Lebanon, at the El Al stream, in the Golan Heights, July 5, 2024. (Maor Kinsbursky/Flash90)

Hezbollah has named 361 members who have been killed by Israel during the ongoing skirmishes, mostly in Lebanon but some also in Syria. In Lebanon, another 65 operatives from other terror groups, a Lebanese soldier, and dozens of civilians have been killed.

Israel has warned that it can no longer tolerate Hezbollah’s presence along its border, with tens of thousands of Israelis displaced from their homes in the north due to the rocket and drone attacks, and has warned that, should a diplomatic solution not be reached, it will turn to military action to push Hezbollah northward.

While the political leadership has not yet made a decision on launching an offensive in Lebanon and turning the Gaza Strip into the secondary front, the IDF has said it continues to target Hezbollah commanders who were behind attacks on Israel.

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