IDF says it hit significant Hezbollah site deep in Lebanon; 50 rockets fired at Golan

3 members of terror group killed in attack in Hermel District; Israel says strike a response to UAV downed in south Lebanon Monday; suspected drone intercepted near Haifa

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

An Israeli airstrike is seen in northeastern Lebanon's Hermel District, early June 11, 2024. (Social media/X. Used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)

Fighter jets struck what Israel’s military described as a significant Hezbollah compound deep in Lebanon overnight Monday-Tuesday after the terror group downed an Israeli drone.

The Israel Defense Forces said airstrikes targeted a site in the Baalbek region belonging to Hezbollah’s Unit 4400, as well as sites in southern Lebanon. According to Israel, Unit 4400 is tasked with “logistical force build-up,” including delivering weaponry to Lebanon and within the country. Hezbollah is backed by Iran, which supplies it with much of its arms.

Lebanese media reported that strikes took place in the Hermel District, near Baalbek in northeastern Lebanon, and sources in the terror group told AFP that three Hezbollah members were killed.

“Three Hezbollah members were killed by nine Israeli missile strikes that targeted a convoy of tankers and a building” in a village in Hermel District on the border with Syria, the Hezbollah source told AFP, adding that three people were also wounded.

On its Telegram channel, the terror group said three members had been killed “on the road to Jerusalem,” its term for operatives slain in Israeli strikes.

They were named as Bilal a-Din, of the south Lebanon village of Majdel Selm, Abbas Nasser, from Tayr Felsay, a town in the Tyre District, and Hadi Musaa, from Shebaa.

The attack potentially marked the deepest IDF strikes in Lebanon amid the ongoing war, as Hermel is some 130 kilometers (80 miles) from the Israeli border.

It came amid increasing hostilities between Israel and the terror group as the sides appear to march closer to all-out war.

Tuesday morning also saw a barrage of 50 rockets launched at the Golan Heights, the military’s air defenses down a “suspicious aerial target” identified off the coast of Haifa in northern Israel, and a drone seemingly fired by an Iran-backed militia Iraq at the southern city of Eilat, the military said.

Hezbollah on Tuesday morning claimed to have launched anti-aircraft missiles at an Israeli fighter jet taking part in the midnight strike, “forcing it to retreat.”

The IDF did not report that its jets came under fire amid the attack.

Aside from the strike in Baalbek, the IDF said several more Hezbollah targets, including a military compound and two buildings, were struck in southern Lebanon’s Aitaroun.

The IDF said the strikes were a response to Hezbollah downing a military unmanned aerial vehicle over south Lebanon on Monday.

Hezbollah, in a statement, said it had intercepted a Hermes 900, a large surveillance and attack UAV used by the Israeli military in Lebanon, the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, and other fronts.

The IDF said the drone was hit by a surface-to-air missile, and the incident was being investigated.

It marked the fifth IDF drone to be shot down by Hezbollah over southern Lebanon amid the war. In all, two Hermes 450 drones and three Hermes 900 models have been downed by the terror group in recent months.

Footage posted by Lebanese media outlets showed the drone crashing over southern Lebanon’s Rihan.

Throughout Monday, Hezbollah launched several explosive-laden drones at northern Israel, some of which caused damage and sparked fires, as the military said it failed to intercept them.

No group immediately claimed responsibility for the drone launched toward Haifa Tuesday.

Israel said sirens were not triggered during the incident, “according to protocol,” and there were no damage or injuries.

Onlookers captured footage of an object exploding in the skies off the Mediterranean bay city in the morning sunlight.

Related: IAF says over 150 enemy drones intercepted during war; detecting them a challenge

Later on Tuesday morning, sirens sounded in Haifa after an Iron Dome interceptor missile was launched at a target later determined to be a “false identification.” Sirens had sounded due to fears of falling shrapnel, the military said, adding that the incident was under further investigation.

At the same time, a barrage of some 50 rockets was launched from Lebanon at the central Golan Heights, the IDF said. Air defenses shot down several of the rockets, while the rest impacted open areas, the military added.

There were no injuries in the attack, claimed by Hezbollah.

The terror group in a statement said it had launched dozens of Katyusha rockets at an army base in the Golan Heights, in response to the overnight strike in northeastern Lebanon.

Since the day after Hamas’s October 7 attack, 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 15 IDF soldiers and reservists. There have also been several attacks from Syria, without any injuries.

Hezbollah has named 337 members who have been killed by Israel during the ongoing skirmishes, mostly in Lebanon but some also in Syria. In Lebanon, another 62 operatives from other terror groups, a Lebanese soldier, and dozens of civilians have been killed.

Fighter jets down drone launched from Iraq

Also overnight, Israeli fighter jets downed a suspected drone heading toward Israel from the “eastern direction,” the military said.

The IDF has described past attacks launched from Iraq as “from the east.”

The “suspicious aerial target” was tracked throughout the incident and did not enter Israeli airspace, the IDF said.

There was no damage or injuries in the incident.

Illustrative: A picture taken from Kiryat Shmona in northern Israel shows an Israeli fighter jet firing a flare over southern Lebanon on May 16, 2024. (Menahem Kahana/AFP)

The IDF’s statement came shortly after the Iran-backed Islamic Resistance in Iraq claimed to have launched drones at a “vital target” in Israel’s southernmost city of Eilat. It said the attack was in support of Palestinians in Gaza.

The Islamic Resistance in Iraq — a loose formation of armed groups affiliated with the Popular Mobilization Forces, itself a coalition of former paramilitary forces integrated into Iraq’s regular armed forces — has claimed dozens of drone attacks on Israel amid the Israel-Hamas war in Gaza, with the IDF reporting downing many of them. Many of the militia’s claims have been exaggerated, but in one case it managed to hit an Israeli Navy base in Eilat, causing damage.

Along with the Islamic Resistance in Iraq, Iran-backed groups in Yemen and Syria have claimed to have launched dozens of drones at Israel during the ongoing war sparked by Hamas’s devastating October 7 terror onslaught, while Lebanon’s Hezbollah has attacked communities and IDF positions in northern Israel on a near-daily basis. Iran itself also carried out an unprecedented attack on Israel in April with hundreds of drones and missiles.

AFP contributed to this report.

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