Barrage of 20 rockets fired at north from Lebanon; IDF shells targets in response

Earlier, IDF strikes Hezbollah cell about to fire anti-tank missile; Biden envoy Amos Hochstein visits Beirut, says ‘restoring calm’ along border is of ‘utmost importance’ to US

Rockets fired from southern Lebanon are intercepted above a position across the border near Kibbutz Dan in northern Israel on November 7, 2023. (Jalaa Marey/AFP)
Rockets fired from southern Lebanon are intercepted above a position across the border near Kibbutz Dan in northern Israel on November 7, 2023. (Jalaa Marey/AFP)

A barrage of 20 rockets was fired from Lebanon toward Israel on Tuesday afternoon, setting off sirens in the Galilee and the Golan Heights.

There were no immediate reports of injuries or damage. The IDF said that its troops were responding with artillery fire toward the sources of the rocket fire.

Later, the IDF confirmed that its fighter jets struck Hezbollah sites in southern Lebanon, including a weapons depot, rocket launching positions, infrastructure and sites where “technological means” are stored.

The rocket barrage came hours after the military struck cells of gunmen near the border and took down an aircraft approaching its airspace earlier Tuesday, as Hezbollah and Israel continue to exchange cross-border fire a month into its war against Hamas in Gaza.

The Israel Defense Forces said it struck a Hezbollah cell in Lebanon in the morning as it attempted to launch an anti-tank guided missile toward Israeli territory, near the agricultural community of Shtula in the Upper Galilee. In another incident, IDF forces attacked a Hezbollah position “to remove a threat,” the military said, without elaborating.

On Tuesday afternoon, the military intercepted a suspicious airborne target near the border, saying it was destroyed before crossing into Israeli territory.

An Israeli anti-missile system intercepts rockets fired from Lebanon, November 7, 2023. (Ayal Margolin/Flash90)

Troops also shelled a position in Lebanon after an IDF post near Aramsha in the Western Galilee was fired on. No Israelis were hurt.

The skirmishes came a day after Israeli towns were bombarded with dozens of rockets, in a sharp uptick in fighting after weeks of relatively limited cross-border fire.

Amos Hochstein, a senior adviser to US President Joe Biden, visited Beirut on Tuesday for talks with Lebanese leaders in an effort to keep the violence along the border with Israel from escalating.

Hochstein met with caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati, as well as Lebanese Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri and other officials.

“The United States does not want to see conflict in Gaza escalating and expanding into Lebanon,” Hochstein says during a press conference following his meetings. “Restoring calm along the southern border is of utmost importance to the United States and it should be the highest priority for both Lebanon and Israel.”

US special envoy Amos Hochstein (C) arrives for a meeting with Lebanon’s parliament speaker in Beirut on November 7, 2023. (AFP)

Since the outbreak of the war on Hamas following its shock October 7 assault on Israel, the Iran-backed Hezbollah has conducted and overseen daily assaults on Israel’s northern border from Lebanon, but has stopped short of launching a full-scale campaign against the country.

Israel, too, has attempted to walk a fine line, responding with significant firepower to attacks and attempted attacks, while trying to avoid actions that would escalate the conflict as it seeks to keep its focus on Gaza.

Monday saw terrorists in Lebanon bombard Israeli towns with rockets, stepping up attacks on the border. The military confirmed that in the span of an hour in the afternoon, some 30 rockets were fired from Lebanon at northern Israel. It said troops responded with artillery shelling at the sources of the fire before later announcing airstrikes on sites belonging to Hezbollah.

Video footage showed the Iron Dome air defense system intercepting rockets over the area. There were no reports of injuries or damage.

The launches triggered warning sirens in Nahariya, Acre, and several nearby towns in the Western Galilee and the Krayot area near Haifa. Sirens also sounded in the Upper Galilee towns of Malkia, Avivim and Dishon.

Hamas claimed responsibility for some of the rocket fire, saying its Lebanon branch had launched 16 projectiles at Nahariya, Haifa, and nearby towns.

The projectiles not fired by Hamas were presumably launched by Hezbollah or another Palestinian faction.

Hours after the rocket launches, the IDF said fighter jets struck Hezbollah targets in Lebanon, including a site housing “technological assets,” a weapons depot, rocket launch positions and other infrastructure.

In light of the attacks, the northern city of Kiryat Shmona on Monday urged any remaining residents to leave, as it continued to be targeted by rockets from Lebanon. The vast majority of the city’s 20,000 or so residents already left, due to attacks by Hezbollah and other terror groups. Some 3,000 are estimated to have remained, according to the Ynet news site.

Areas of the city sustained significant damage in rocket attacks on Sunday.

Yisrael Beytenu party head Avigdor Liberman on Monday called for the government to take a firmer hand against Hezbollah attacks in the north, saying Israel’s current controlled response policy was insufficient.

“We have to change the policy. We can’t only respond,” Liberman said at the outset of his faction meeting at the Knesset, arguing that the war cabinet’s thinking was obsolete.

Yisrael Beytenu party leader Avigdor Liberman holds a faction meeting in the Knesset on October 16, 2023. (Noam Revkin Fenton/Flash90)

On Sunday, an Israeli civilian was killed by an anti-tank guided missile launched from Lebanon, the second civilian fatality on Israel’s side of the border in attacks by Hezbollah and Palestinian gunmen since October 7. Six IDF soldiers have also been killed in that timeframe.

On the Lebanese side, at least 81 people have been killed, according to an AFP tally. The toll includes at least 60 Hezbollah members, eight Palestinian terrorists, a number of civilians, and one Reuters journalist.

IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi said Sunday that the military was “ready at any moment to go on the offense in the north,” after Defense Minister Yoav Gallant toured the north on Saturday and warned Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah against “making a mistake.”

In a speech Friday, Nasrallah said Hezbollah’s ongoing low-level conflict with Israel on the border since October 7 was “not the end” and warned Israel to “not go any further” in Gaza. But he also signaled that the war in the Strip was not entirely his concern, saying: “The October 7 attack was a 100 percent Palestinian operation, planned and executed by Palestinians for the Palestinian cause; it has no relation at all to any international or regional issues.”

Israel has diverted massive forces to the north even as it has done the same in the south, to prepare for the possibility of Hezbollah trying to replicate Hamas’s atrocities in southern communities. It has also ordered the evacuation of border communities to protect residents.

Emanuel Fabian, Jacob Magid, Carrie Keller-Lynn and AFP contributed to this report.

Most Popular
read more: