ISRAEL AT WAR - DAY 142

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Two killed in renewed Hezbollah missile attacks; IDF restricts Lebanon border area

Terror group fires at town and army posts, leading to exchanges of fire; military says it struck terror sites after 6 anti-tank guided missiles, 9 rockets fired at north

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

An Israeli Merkava tank drives into position in the north of Israel near the border with Lebanon on October 15, 2023. (Jalaa MAREY / AFP)
An Israeli Merkava tank drives into position in the north of Israel near the border with Lebanon on October 15, 2023. (Jalaa MAREY / AFP)

The Hezbollah terror group launched six anti-tank guided missiles at an Israeli town and military positions on the Lebanon border on Sunday, killing one civilian and one soldier.

Another nine rockets were also launched at northern towns, causing no damage or injuries. Hamas later claimed responsibility for the rocket attacks.

The ongoing skirmishes on the northern frontier have been stoking fears a second front could open up as Israel wages war on terrorists in the Gaza Strip in the south.

The Israel Defense Forces said it shelled the sources of the missile and rocket fire with artillery and carried out a number of airstrikes against sites belonging to the Lebanese terror group.

The IDF also announced it was restricting the area of up to four kilometers from the Lebanon border, ordering civilians not to enter.

In the early evening, gunfire was reported on the border, near the northern city of Kiryat Shmona. Hezbollah claimed responsibility for attacking a number of Israeli military posts.

The IDF said ground troops clashed with gunmen who opened fire at them on the border. It also said combat helicopters were striking “military infrastructure” in Lebanon.

In the first attack on Sunday morning, one civilian was killed and another three were wounded when a missile struck a construction site in the northern town of Shtula.

The Magen David Adom ambulance service said its medics declared a man in his 40s dead at the scene and were taking three more men in their 40s, two in moderate condition and one in good condition, to Galilee Medical Center in Nahariya.

A second missile targeted a nearby military post, the IDF said, causing no injuries.

A short while later, a third missile was fired at a group of troops operating on the Lebanon border, the IDF said. In the fourth, fifth, and sixth attacks in the afternoon, the IDF said other military posts on the border came under fire.

First responders on the scene of a rocket attack in Shtula, northern Israel, October 15, 2023. (MDA)

The Hezbollah terror group claimed responsibility for the attacks, which it said came as a response to previous Israeli strikes in Lebanon. Israel’s recent strikes had come in response to previous attacks launched by Hezbollah and allied Palestinian factions.

The third missile attack, according to Hezbollah, targeted an Israeli tank.

The IDF said one officer, Lt. Amitay Zvi Granot, 24, a commander in the 7th Armored Brigade, from Tel Aviv, was killed in one of the missile attacks, against the Nurit post.

A number of other troops were hurt in some of the attacks, the military said.

Later Sunday, the IDF said nine rockets were launched from Lebanon at northern Israel, setting off sirens in Nahariya and several nearby towns.

The IDF said five of the projectiles were intercepted by the Iron Dome air defense system, as the remainder were not headed for populated areas. There were no reports of injuries or damage in the attack.

The Hamas terror group claimed responsibility for rocket fire, saying in a statement that its Lebanon branch targeted Nahariya with some 20 rockets “in response to the occupation’s crimes against our people in Gaza.”

Following the missile attacks, the IDF said it was “isolating the area” of up to four kilometers from the Lebanon border, instructing civilians not to enter.

“The IDF stresses that entering the area is strictly prohibited and asks the public to be vigilant and not enter the area,” the military said.

Smoke rises from Israeli shelling on the outskirts of the Lebanese village of Kfar Chouba, Lebanon, Oct. 14, 2023. (AP Photo/Mohammed Zaatari)

Residents living in communities up to two kilometers from the Lebanon border were ordered to remain close to bomb shelters until further notice.

The IDF also warned the public that it was jamming GPS services along the northern and southern borders, which may affect navigation applications.

Israel has traded fire with Hezbollah and allied Palestinian factions in Lebanon several times in recent days, although the tit-for-tat attacks have remained limited in scope.

At least five Israeli soldiers, four Hezbollah terrorists, and five Palestinian terrorists have been killed in the exchanges.

Hezbollah has fired several anti-tank guided missiles, rockets, and mortars at Israeli military positions in recent days, while Palestinian groups such as Hamas and the Islamic Jihad have both launched rockets and sent gunmen to infiltrate into Israel.

A picture taken from southern Lebanon on October 9, 2023, shows an Israeli Merkava tank driving in the border town of Metula, Israel. (Mahmoud Zayyat/AFP)

The IDF has bolstered forces in northern Israel amid fears that the Lebanon-based Hezbollah terror group will open up a second front in the war triggered by last weekend’s unprecedented Hamas assault from the Gaza Strip.

War erupted after Hamas’s October 7 massacre, which saw at least 1,500 terrorists burst across the border into Israel from the Gaza Strip by land, air and sea, killing over 1,300 people and seizing 150-200 hostages of all ages under the cover of a deluge of thousands of rockets fired at Israeli towns and cities. The vast majority of those killed as gunmen seized border communities were civilians — men, women, children and the elderly. Entire families were executed in their homes, and over 260 were slaughtered at an outdoor festival, amid horrific acts of brutality by the terrorists, in what US President Joe Biden has highlighted as “the worst massacre of the Jewish people since the Holocaust.”

On Friday, the IDF declared some areas in the northern town of Metula a closed military zone. Metula in recent days had recommended that residents leave the town amid the tensions.

With alert levels high, Hezbollah said Friday it would be “fully prepared” to join its Palestinian ally Hamas in the war against Israel when the time is right.

Iran has also issued threats of a wider confrontation.

The United States has sent a second carrier strike group, the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower, to the Eastern Mediterranean, where, according to US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, it will join the Gerald R. Ford carrier strike group “as part of our effort to deter hostile actions against Israel or any efforts toward widening this war following Hamas’s attack on Israel.”

Israel has retaliated for the unprecedented Hamas assault by striking the terror group’s targets in the Gaza Strip — saying it aims to destroy Hamas and will target anywhere Hamas operates, and this weekend urging civilians to evacuate the northern Gaza area — killing some 2,200 people, according to the Hamas-run health ministry. The IDF also said it has killed some 1,500 terrorists inside Israel.

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