Lebanon rocket attacks target northern towns; IDF strikes Hezbollah in response

Military says fighter jets hit ‘advanced’ surface-to-air missile system that fired at a drone overnight; report says Israel struck aluminum plant outside Nabatiyeh

A screenshot of a video released by the Israel Defense Forces on November 18, 2023, shows smoke rising after Israeli troops targeted a Hezbollah post in southern Lebanon. (Screenshot: X; used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)
A screenshot of a video released by the Israel Defense Forces on November 18, 2023, shows smoke rising after Israeli troops targeted a Hezbollah post in southern Lebanon. (Screenshot: X; used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)

Fresh rocket attacks were launched at communities in northern Israel on Saturday, leading Israeli forces to strike back at Hezbollah targets in Lebanon.

There were no reports of injuries in the latest attacks, which came a day after four Israelis were injured by an anti-tank guided missile fired by Hezbollah.

The military said a barrage fired in the morning included some 25 rockets, setting off sirens in the towns of Sassa and Shtula. The projectiles all landed in open areas.

Hours later, the Israel Defense Forces confirmed rockets were also fired from Lebanon at Kiryat Shmona and army posts along the border.

The IDF also said air defenses intercepted a “suspicious aerial target” over Lebanese airspace.

In response to the repeated cross-border attacks, the military said it shelled the sources of the rocket fire with artillery and carried out strikes against numerous Hezbollah sites.

The IDF said the targets included military compounds and observation posts belonging to the terror group. The army said it also carried out a drone strike on a terror cell preparing to carry out an attack.

Separately, the military said fighter jets struck an “advanced” surface-to-air in Lebanon which had fired at an Israeli drone overnight.

The missile was intercepted by Israeli air defenses, the IDF said.

The overnight attack triggered air raid sirens in Safed that the military said were set off by the interceptions, adding that “no crossing into Israeli territory was detected.”

According to a Hezbollah statement, its fighters fired a surface-to-air missile toward an Israeli Elbit Hermes 450 drone that was flying over Lebanon. A video published by the terror group showed a projectile hitting the IDF drone, but not downing it.

In an unrelated incident, the IDF said a military drone made an emergency landing in an open area in northern Israel Saturday morning.

It said the aircraft was not hit by enemy fire, and the matter was being investigated.

Also Saturday, Lebanon’s government news agency said an Israeli drone fired two missiles at an aluminum plant outside the southern Lebanese market town of Nabatiyeh early in the morning, causing a fire and widespread damage.

The Israeli military did not confirm any strikes in Lebanon overnight.

A potential Israeli strike near the village of Toul, located far from the border, would be the first to hit the area since the Second Lebanon War in 2006 between Israel and Hezbollah.

The National News Agency said firefighters and ambulances rushed to the area, but it did not mention casualties. Journalists who tried to reach the factory were prevented by Hezbollah members.

Defense Minister Yoav Gallant during an assessment in the north on November 18, 2023. (Ariel Hermoni/Defense Ministry)

During a visit Saturday to the north, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said the IDF was working along the border with Lebanon to actively strike Hezbollah targets and return security to the area.

Following an assessment with IDF officials, Gallant said in a statement that the military was “carrying out a police of active defense, exacting a price against every threat, in the air and on the ground.”

He said the IDF was responding to missiles and rockets fired by Hezbollah and also striking the terror group’s infrastructure.

Gallant said the military was ready to respond to any attempt by Hezbollah to expand the war in the north, “our intelligence has eyes on things and we are ready to meet any challenge.”

“Our goal is to make residents of the north feel safe — this process will take a little more time but we will get there.”

Since Hamas’s assault on Israel on October 7 and during the subsequent war inside Gaza, where Israel seeks to topple the ruling terror group, 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.

Israel, too, has sought to respond strongly to attacks while avoiding actions that would escalate the conflict as it seeks to keep its focus on Gaza.

Artillery fire from an Israeli position hits the hills near the outskirts of the border town of Odaisseh in southern Lebanon on November 17, 2023. (Hasan Fneich/AFP)

The persistent skirmishes along the border have resulted in three civilian deaths on the Israeli side, as well as the deaths of six IDF soldiers.

On the Lebanese side, nearly 100 have been killed. The toll includes at least 74 Hezbollah members, eight Palestinian terrorists, a number of civilians and one Reuters journalist.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday warned Hezbollah that it was “playing with fire.”

“There are those who think they can expand their attacks against our troops and against civilians. This is playing with fire,” Netanyahu said, without explicitly mentioning Hezbollah. “Fire will be met with much stronger fire. They must not try us, because we have displayed only a little part of our power. We will harm those who harm us.”

Agencies contributed to this report.

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