Terrorists in Lebanon bombarded Israeli towns with rockets on Monday, stepping up attacks on the increasingly tense northern border, as Israel presses on with its offensive in the south against the Gaza-ruling Hamas terror group.
The military confirmed that in the span of an hour, 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, as rocket sirens sounded repeatedly in the community of Shtula.
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. Shortly before, sirens 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 — presumably launched by Hezbollah or another Palestinian faction — set off sirens in the Upper Galilee.
Footage shows several Iron Dome interceptions over northern Israel. (Credit: קבוצת כתבים) pic.twitter.com/DhwmPe7T4E
— Emanuel (Mannie) Fabian (@manniefabian) November 6, 2023
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.
מטוסי קרב של צה״ל תקפו מטרות של ארגון הטרור חיזבאללה בתגובה לירי שבוצע משטח לבנון מוקדם יותר היום, במקביל לתקיפות באמצעות ירי ארטילרי.
בין המטרות שהותקפו מספר אתרים בהם ממוקמים אמצעים טכנולוגיים של ארגון הטרור חיזבאללה, מחסן אמצעי לחימה, עמדות שיגור ותשתיות טרור pic.twitter.com/hTXJ8jaqUH
— צבא ההגנה לישראל (@idfonline) November 6, 2023
In light of the attacks, the mostly-evacuated northern city of Kiryat Shmona on Monday urged any remaining residents to leave, as it continued to be targeted by rockets from Lebanon.
“Due to the escalating security situation and increased barrages on Kiryat Shmona, we call on all who remain in the city to leave it immediately,” it said.
“Leave the city and save lives!” the municipality added.
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.
Meanwhile, Yisrael Beytenu party head Avigdor Liberman on Monday called for the government to take a stronger 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.
“I hope that no one plans to tolerate fire from Yemen by Houthis toward Israel,” Liberman added, referring to the Iran-backed rebel group that has launched missiles and drones from Yemen toward Israeli territory.
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’s rocket fire came a day after 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% Palestinian operation, planned and executed by Palestinians for the Palestinian cause; it has no relation at all to any international or regional issues.”
The terror chief also boasted that Hezbollah’s military actions on the border had drawn IDF forces away from the war against Hamas.
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 an all-out war against Hamas, recruiting over 300,000 reservists as it pounds Gaza terror targets, as well as 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.
Carrie Keller-Lynn and AFP contributed to this report.