Victim named as Zaher Bashara from Ein Qiniyye

Man killed in Hezbollah barrage on Kiryat Shmona after deadly Israeli strike in Lebanon

Terror group says rocket attack on northern city a response to deaths of 7 in Habbariyeh; IDF says it targeted a ‘significant terrorist’ in overnight strike

Firefighters and medics at the scene of a deadly rocket strike in Kiryat Shmona on March 27, 2024. Inset: Zaher Bashara, who was killed in the strike. (Jalaa MAREY / AFP)
Firefighters and medics at the scene of a deadly rocket strike in Kiryat Shmona on March 27, 2024. Inset: Zaher Bashara, who was killed in the strike. (Jalaa MAREY / AFP)

A 25-year-old man was killed Wednesday morning as Hezbollah launched a barrage of rockets at the northern city of Kiryat Shmona, in what the terror group said was a response to a deadly Israeli airstrike in Lebanon hours earlier.

The Israel Defense Forces said some 30 rockets were launched at Kiryat Shmona in the attack. Hezbollah claimed to have launched dozens of projectiles at the city and a nearby army base.

Some of the rockets were seen being downed by the Iron Dome air defense system, but at least three struck the city, causing damage and casualties, authorities said.

One rocket directly struck an industrial building, resulting in a fire. The Fire and Rescue Services said it worked to extinguish the fire, as it pulled out a man from under the rubble.

The Magen David Adom ambulance service said the man was pulled out without any vital signs. The service’s medics declared his death at the scene.

He was named as Zaher Bashara 38, a resident of the Druze village of Ein Qiniyye.

Another man in his 30s, who was unharmed, was rescued from the damaged building.

A home in Kiryat Shmona was also directly hit and a third rocket strike in the city damaged a car, local authorities said.

Hezbollah claimed responsibility for the attack on Kiryat Shmona, saying it targeted the northern city and a nearby army base with “dozens of rockets.”

Israeli security forces examine the site hit by a rocket fired from Lebanon, in Kiryat Shmona, northern Israel, March 27, 2024. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)

The terror group said the attack was a response to an Israeli airstrike overnight in southern Lebanon’s Habbariyeh, some five kilometers (three miles) from the border with Israel, which reportedly killed seven people.

Overnight, the IDF said it had struck a “military building” in Habbariyeh, killing a “significant terrorist” of the al-Jama’a al-Islamiyya group, along with several other operatives who were with him in the building.

The IDF said the target, who was not named, had “advanced attacks against Israeli territory.”

According to the IDF, the al-Jama’a al-Islamiyya cell planned an infiltration attack on the border.

Two security sources told Reuters that seven people were killed in a strike on an emergency and relief center belonging to Jamaa al-Islamiya in Habbariyeh.

All seven were members of the terror group, according to the Israeli military.

People inspect destruction at the site of an overnight Israeli airstrike in Habbariyeh, Lebanon, on March 27, 2024. (AP Photo/Mohammed Zaatari)

On Tuesday, Jamaa al-Islamiya head Sheikh Mohammed Takkoush told the Associated Press that the group was closely coordinating with both Hezbollah and Hamas along the border with Israel, where they have claimed responsibility for several attacks over the past months.

“Part of [the attacks against Israeli forces] were in coordination with Hamas, which coordinates with Hezbollah,” he said, adding that direct cooperation with Hezbollah “is on the rise and this is being reflected in the field.” He did not elaborate further.

The group carried out attacks against Israel mainly from the southern city of Sidon, where it once enjoyed wide influence.

The group is one of Lebanon’s main Sunni factions but has kept a low profile politically over the years. It has one member in Lebanon’s 128-seat legislature. Elections within the group in 2022 brought its leadership closer to Hamas.

Two members of the group were killed in an Israeli strike in Beirut on January 2 that also killed top Hamas terrorist Saleh al-Arouri. Three others were killed in an Israeli strike earlier this month, Takkoush said.

Also Wednesday, the IDF said a Hezbollah drone was found crashed near the northern border community of Rosh Hanikra.

It is unclear when the drone was launched, or what it was intended to have been used for. The incident was under further investigation, the IDF added.

Later Wednesday, the Lebanese news agency said Israel bombed the village of Teir Harfa, killing five, and that a second strike killed four people as paramedics gathered near a cafe in the coastal town of Naqoura.

Hezbollah’s Islamic Health Society said two of its paramedics were killed in Teir Harfa.

The Islamic Risala Scout Association, also a paramedic group, said one of its members was killed in the strike on Naqoura.

The Amal movement of Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri said the strike on Naquora killed one of its local commanders, identified as Ali Mahdi. Hezbollah said two of its fighters were killed without saying where they were struck.

The cross-border exchange came a day after the IDF struck Hezbollah sites deep in Lebanon in response to the terror group targeting a sensitive air traffic control base in northern Israel and a winery in a border community.

A fire is seen at a winery in the northern community of Avivim following a Hezbollah missile attack, March 26, 2024. (Ayal Margolin/Flash90)

Tuesday’s airstrike, near the northeastern town of Zboud, which is more than 110 kilometers from the border, was Israel’s deepest in Lebanon since the war against Hamas started on October 7.

After the IDF’s strikes in the Baalbek District, Hezbollah fired a barrage of around 50 rockets at northern Israel, claiming to target an army base in the Golan Heights.

In response to that barrage, the IDF carried out another strike against Hezbollah assets in the Baalbek region.

Since October 8, Hezbollah-led forces have attacked Israeli communities and military posts along the border on a near-daily basis with rockets, drones, anti-tank missiles, and other means, with the group saying it is doing so to support Gaza amid the war there. Hezbollah is an Iranian proxy in Lebanon and Palestinian terror groups Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad are backed by Iran.

The IDF has regularly responded with strikes in Lebanon, while warning it will no longer tolerate Hezbollah’s presence on the frontier and warning of war in the north should ongoing international efforts fail to remove the terror group’s forces from the border area.

The war in Gaza erupted with Hamas’s October 7 massacre, which saw some 3,000 terrorists burst across the border into southern Israel by land, air and sea, killing some 1,200 people and seizing 253 hostages.

Vowing to destroy Hamas, Israel launched a wide-scale military campaign in Gaza. Hamas’s Iran-backed ally Hezbollah responded with strikes and attacks on the northern front.

Smoke billows from the area of an Israeli air strike on the southern Lebanese village of Khiam near the border with Israel on March 23, 2024. (Rabih Daher/AFP)

So far, the skirmishes on the northern border have resulted in eight civilian deaths — including Wednesday’s attack — on the Israeli side, as well as the deaths of 10 IDF soldiers and reservists. There have also been several attacks from Syria, without any injuries.

Hezbollah has named 255 members who have been killed by Israel during the ongoing skirmishes, mostly in Lebanon, but some also in Syria. In Lebanon, another 42 operatives from other terror groups, a Lebanese soldier, and at least 50 civilians, three of whom were journalists, have been killed.

Amid the constant attacks from Lebanon, Israeli officials maintain the country will no longer accept Hezbollah’s presence along the border, which is in contravention of the UN resolution that ended the 2006 Second Lebanon War. They say from those positions, the terrorists could launch an attack similar to Hamas’s October 7 attacks in southern Israel.

Jerusalem also says the situation whereby tens of thousands of northern residents have been driven from their homes for months by Hezbollah’s attacks is intolerable and unsustainable.

Defense Minister Yoav Gallant warned in February that a possible truce in Gaza would not affect Israel’s “objective” of pushing Hezbollah back from its northern border, by force or diplomacy.

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