IDF says some 4,500 Hezbollah targets hit, 300 operatives killed since start of war

More than 450 sites belonging to elite Radwan force targeted; terror group vows to hit Israel ‘the same and stronger’ after airstrikes target 2 command centers in northeast Lebanon

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

Smoke billows from the site of an Israeli airstrike that targeted the southern Lebanese village of Khiyam on March 12, 2024  (Photo by AFP)
Smoke billows from the site of an Israeli airstrike that targeted the southern Lebanese village of Khiyam on March 12, 2024 (Photo by AFP)

Israel has hit more than 4,500 Hezbollah targets since the start of the ongoing war in the Gaza Strip, the IDF said on Tuesday after some 100 rockets were fired from Lebanon by the Iran-backed terror group earlier in the day.

According to the IDF’s estimates, more than 300 Hezbollah operatives have been killed, including five senior commanders, and 750 have been wounded by Israeli strikes across five months of daily skirmishes along the border.

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 against the Hamas terror group.

Over the past months, the Northern Command has led strikes from the air against more than 1,200 targets, and another 3,100 sites were targeted from the ground using artillery and tanks, the IDF said.

The IDF noted that some of the 4,500 Hezbollah targets were stuck in Syria, including on Tuesday.

According to the military, the targets have included weapons depots, buildings used by Hezbollah for attacks, more than 150 observation posts along the border, some 70 command centers where terror operatives were gathered, more than 50 significant rocket launching positions, and dozens of squads carrying out anti-tank missile attacks.

Of the targeted sites, more than 450 were said by the IDF to have belonged to Hezbollah’s elite Radwan force, which is believed by Israel to be tasked with potentially infiltrating the country.

This picture taken from Israel along the border with southern Lebanon shows smoke billowing near the Lebanese village of Khiam during Israeli strikes on March 12, 2024 (Jalaa MAREY / AFP)

The “intense strikes” against Hezbollah are causing damage to the terror group’s “air and ground capabilities as well as its top command,” the IDF said, adding that it is “constantly working to push Hezbollah’s forces and its systems out of southern Lebanon, and has carried out significant attacks in this area.”

Hezbollah has named more than 240 members who have been killed by Israel since October 8. Another 40 operatives from other terror groups have also been killed in strikes on southern Lebanon, as well as a Lebanese soldier and at least 30 civilians, three of whom were journalists.

The near-daily exchange of fire along the shared Israel-Lebanon border has caused seven civilian deaths on the Israeli side, as well as the deaths of 10 IDF soldiers and reservists.

The Iran-backed terror group took responsibility for firing around 100 rockets at northern Israel on Tuesday morning in two separate barrages, claiming that it had targeted two Israeli army bases in the Golan Heights with Katyusha rockets.

There were no reports of damage or injuries from the Hezbollah rockets, with footage showing some of the projectiles being intercepted by the Iron Dome air defense system. Sirens had sounded in several communities in the northern Golan Heights and the Galilee Panhandle.

Sirens did not sound for the second barrage as the rockets impacted open areas, the army said.

After the barrages, the IDF said fighter jets struck three rocket launchers in southern Lebanon used in the attack.

The terror group said that the rocket fire was in response to recent Israeli attacks in Lebanon, including a strike on Monday night in Baalbek in the country’s northeast, which reportedly killed a civilian.

Baalbek, an area identified in the past as a Hezbollah stronghold, is nearly 100 kilometers (60 miles) from the Israeli border.

Lebanese civil defense members search the rubble of a destroyed building in the aftermath of an Israeli airstrike on the village of Sarein, near Baalbek in northeast Lebanon on March 12, 2024. (AFP)

The IDF has stepped up its attacks on Baalbek in recent days and confirmed on Tuesday afternoon that it had once again hit Hezbollah sites in the area following the heavy rocket fire earlier in the day.

The strike was reported by Lebanese media outlets to have occurred near the town of Saraain, some 80 kilometers (50 miles) from Israel’s border, and images circulated online showed smoke rising from the targeted site.

The airstrikes targeted what the IDF said were two Hezbollah command centers used “to store significant assets used to strengthen its weapons arsenal.”

The IDF also said it targeted buildings used by Hezbollah and additional infrastructure in Khiam, Bint Jbeil, Odaisseh, and Ayta ash-Shab on Tuesday. It published footage of those strikes.

Also Tuesday, the IDF said it struck two Syrian Army sites in southern Syria, where members of the Lebanese Hezbollah terror group were operating.

In a statement, the IDF said it “holds the Syrian regime accountable for all activities which take place within its territory and will not allow for any attempted actions which could lead to the entrenchment of Hezbollah on the Syrian front.”

The rare strikes were carried out after the IDF gathered “precise intelligence which incriminated the infrastructure,” the military said.

It published footage showing one of the airstrikes.

Hezbollah threatened a “stronger” response to the Israeli strikes in the Baalbek region and warned that “all options” were on the table.

“Hezbollah will not be silent about the Israeli attacks,” a source with the Iran-backed terror group told the London-based and Qatari-owned publication The New Arab, also known as Al-Araby Al-Jadeed. “The response will be the same and stronger.”

“All options are open and Hezbollah is prepared and ready for any expansion [of hostilities],” the source added.

Earlier on Tuesday, the terror group said its leader Hassan Nasrallah met with senior Hamas member Khalil al-Hayya to discuss ceasefire efforts in the Gaza war, as well as attacks by Hamas’s regional allies to support its war against Israel, which started with the shock Hamas terror assault on October 7, in which some 1,200 people were massacred and 253 were seized as hostages.

As Hezbollah threatened to escalate the tenuous situation with Israel, which for the past five months has been contained to the areas closest to the border, the IDF reiterated on Tuesday that it is “well aware of the great and ongoing difficulty of the residents of the north” who have been displaced due to the ongoing daily attacks.

The military stressed that it “appreciates the resilience that the residents demonstrate” and that it is “committed to continuing to operate” to restore security to the northern front for the sake of the roughly 60,000 residents who have been displaced since October.

Times of Israel staff and agencies contributed to this report.

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