Report claims IDF base targeted with heavy rocket; none hurt

Military strikes Hezbollah posts, cells along Lebanon border as Gallant tours region

Israel says it responded to rocket fire from Lebanon in the morning; defense minister warns Nasrallah against ‘making a mistake’

Plumes of smoke rise near the Lebanese village of Rmeish following Israeli airstrikes on November 4, 2023. (Screencapture/X used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)
Plumes of smoke rise near the Lebanese village of Rmeish following Israeli airstrikes on November 4, 2023. (Screencapture/X used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)

A day after Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah made a speech in which he threatened Israel but did not move to escalate fighting along the Lebanon border, the Israel Defense Forces continued to clash with the terror group on Saturday.

Rocket sirens sounded Saturday morning in a number of Israeli communities in the Upper Galilee, close to the Lebanon border. A number of rockets were also fired from Lebanon at the Rosh Hanikra area. There were no casualties in the incidents, with most border area communities having evacuated. No damage was reported either.

The alerts came amid repeated rocket and missile attacks by Hezbollah and allied Palestinian terror factions from southern Lebanon on northern Israel.

The army said it struck two cells of terror operatives in southern Lebanon, as they  planned to open fire at Israel, possibly with anti-tank guided missiles. The IDF said it also struck an observation post belonging to Hezbollah in the area.

Also on Saturday, the military said it struck Hezbollah positions in southern Lebanon in response to the rocket fire.

The targets included infrastructure, rocket storage sites and compounds used by the terror group, sharing footage from the sorties.

Clips shared online showed massive plumes of smoke near the Lebanese village of Rmeish.

Meanwhile, the Beirut-based Al-Mayadeen TV network reported that Hezbollah fired two Burkan rockets, which carry heavy warheads, at an Israeli post. A Lebanese security official confirmed the report of Burkan rockets being used for the first time.

The rockets, whose name means “volcano” in Arabic, were previously used by Hezbollah and Syrian government forces to destroy the fortifications of Syrian opposition fighters. They are one of a number of types of rockets and missiles that the heavily armed Hezbollah has in its arsenal.

Israel made no comment on the reports, and there did not appear to have been any casualties.

Visiting the north Saturday, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant warned Nasrallah against “making a mistake.”

“We are on the defensive in the north and attacking with full force in the Gaza Strip, this is our priority,” Gallant said in remarks provided by his office. “We are not interested in getting into a war in the north, but we are ready for any task. The Air Force maintains most of its strength for the Lebanese arena, against Hezbollah.”

Gallant said Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar “made a mistake and sealed the fate of Hamas and the fate of Gaza” with the deadly October 7 assault on southern communities that claimed the lives of some 1,400 people, most of the civilians, and which saw the abduction of over 240.

“If Nasrallah makes a mistake, he will seal the fate of Lebanon,” Gallant added.

Defense Minister Yoav Gallant (center) speaks with officers at the 146th Division’s headquarters near the Lebanon border, November 4, 2023. (Ariel Hermoni/Defense Ministry)

In his speech Friday, the terror chief 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% Palestinian operation, planned and executed by Palestinians for the Palestinian cause, it has no relation at all to any international or regional issues.”

As he spoke, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued a threat of his own, warning Israel’s “enemies in the north” not to make the costly mistake of escalating the war. “You cannot imagine how much this will cost you.”

A senior Biden administration official said overnight that Nasrallah’s speech did not appear to signal the Lebanese terror group was poised to broaden its conflict with Israel.

Pentagon spokesman Brigadier General Patrick Ryder said he did not think Hezbollah would escalate fighting with Israel, telling the BBC that “a broader regional conflict has been deterred.”

In Israel on Friday, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken issued a warning. “With regard to Lebanon, with regard to Hezbollah, with regard to Iran, we have been very clear from the outset that we are determined that there not be a second or third front opened in this conflict. President Biden said on day one to anyone thinking of opening a second front, taking advantage of the situation, don’t. And we’ve backed up those words…  with practical deeds.”

Supporters of Iranian-backed Hezbollah raise their fists and cheer as leader Hassan Nasrallah gives a speech via a video link during a rally in Beirut, Lebanon, Friday, Nov. 3, 2023 (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)

In Israel and throughout the region, Nasrallah’s speech, which Hezbollah announced days in advance and repeatedly played up, had been anticipated and feared as potentially heralding a declaration of war, or of some ultimatum. But the terror chief did not do so.

Since the outbreak of war, 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.

On the Lebanese side of the border, some 70 people have been killed — including at least 59 Hezbollah members, eight Palestinian terrorists, a number of civilians and one Reuters journalist. On the Israeli side, six IDF soldiers and one civilian have been killed in attacks by Hezbollah and Palestinian gunmen.

In his speech, Nasrallah boasted that Hezbollah’s military actions on the border had drawn IDF forces away from the war against Hamas.

“Our operations on the border have forced the IDF to divert forces, weapons and equipment from Gaza and the West Bank to the Lebanese front. One-third of the IDF is now amassed on our border,” he claimed.

Hamas terrorists launched an unprecedented October 7 onslaught inside Israel by bursting through the Gaza border, killing over 1,400 people — most of them civilians, slaughtered in their homes — and abducting over 240 to Gaza. Israel responded by launching and all-out war against Hamas, recruiting over 300,000 reservists as it pounds Gaza terror targets and launching a ground operation over the past week that is encircling Gaza City — Hamas’s main base of operations.

Israel has also 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.

Gianluca Pacchiani contributed to this report.

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