IDF: Top Hezbollah operative killed in south Lebanon strike; soldier hurt by rocket

Ismail al-Zin said to be senior commander in elite Radwan force’s anti-tank unit; overnight, fighter jet shoots down apparent drone heading toward Israel from Syria

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

The site of an IDF drone strike in southern Lebanon's Kounine, March 31, 2024. (Video screenshot; used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)
The site of an IDF drone strike in southern Lebanon's Kounine, March 31, 2024. (Video screenshot; used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)

The Israel Defense Forces said Sunday it had eliminated a top operative in Hezbollah’s elite Radwan force in a drone strike in southern Lebanon, hours after a soldier was wounded in a rocket attack carried out by the terror group.

Ismail Ali al-Zin, according to the IDF, was a senior commander in Radwan’s anti-tank missile unit.

He was targeted in a drone strike while in a car in southern Lebanon’s Kounine.

The IDF described al-Zin as a “significant source of knowledge regarding anti-tank missiles who was responsible for dozens of anti-tank missile attacks against Israeli civilians, communities and security forces.”

Radwan is Hezbollah’s special operations unit, and is believed by Israel to be tasked with potentially infiltrating the country in a future attack.

Earlier in the day, an IDF soldier was lightly wounded in a rocket strike in the Kiryat Shmona area. The soldier was taken to hospital for treatment, the IDF said.

Hezbollah claimed responsibility for the attack, as well as several others against IDF positions along the border.

In one incident, a drone launched by Hezbollah from Lebanon struck an open area in Mount Dov, the IDF said.

According to the IDF, no damage or injuries were caused in the drone attack.

In response, fighter jets struck Hezbollah sites in Khiam and Rab al-Thalathine, and troops shelled areas near Houla with artillery to “remove threats,” the IDF said.

Later Sunday, the IDF said it struck additional Hezbollah sites in southern Lebanon, including buildings in Mays al-Jabal and Blida where operatives were gathered, rocket launching positions in Markaba, and an observation post in Kafr Kila.

On Saturday night, another Hezbollah building in Jebbayn was struck, the army said.

Also overnight, the IDF said a fighter jet intercepted “a suspicious aerial target” — thought to be a drone — that was making its way toward Israel from the direction of Syria.

The target was not detected as having crossed into Israeli territory. Large blasts were reported over southern Syria’s Daraa amid the incident.

The incident came as the Islamic Resistance in Iraq, a coalition of Iran-backed paramilitary groups, claimed to have launched a drone at a “vital target” near the northern Israeli town of Eilabun.

The Iran-backed Iraqi militia has claimed to have launched numerous drones at Israel amid the war in the Gaza Strip, most of which have failed to cross Israel’s border, or were downed by air defenses. In one case, a drone struck an area near the town of Eliad, causing slight damage to structures.

This picture taken from northern Israel shows an Israeli Air Force fighter jet flying over the border area with south Lebanon on March 27, 2024. (Photo by Jalaa MAREY / AFP)

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

Of the 265 members Hezbollah says were killed by Israel during the ongoing skirmishes, most died in Lebanon, but some also in Syria. In Lebanon, another 50 operatives from other terror groups, a Lebanese soldier, and at least 60 civilians, three of whom were journalists, have been killed.

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