More than 100 rockets fired at north following airstrike

Senior Hezbollah commander killed in IDF strike in southern Lebanon

Israel bracing for uptick in rocket, drone attacks after assassination of Muhammad Nimah Nasser, who led terror group’s Aziz unit; Gallant: We’re ready for any action in Lebanon

This undated photo released by Hezbollah on June 3, 2024, shows senior commander Muhammad Nimah Nasser, who was killed in an Israeli airstrike. (Hezbollah media office)
This undated photo released by Hezbollah on June 3, 2024, shows senior commander Muhammad Nimah Nasser, who was killed in an Israeli airstrike. (Hezbollah media office)

A senior Hezbollah commander was killed on Wednesday in an Israeli airstrike in southern Lebanon. He was one of the highest-ranking officials in the terror group to be killed in nine months of fighting along the border. The terror group responded by firing at least 100 rockets at northern Israel on Wednesday afternoon.

Hezbollah confirmed the death of Muhammad Nimah Nasser, also known as Abu Nimah, from the south Lebanon town of Haddatha, following reports of the strike. Nasser was killed in a strike in the coastal city of Tyre.

Lebanon’s state-run National News Agency said “an enemy drone targeted a car” in Tyre, around 20 kilometers (12 miles) from the border. A source told AFP that a second Hezbollah fighter and a civilian were also killed in the same strike.

In its statement, Hezbollah referred to Nasser as a commander, a designation the terror group rarely uses to refer to its senior operatives slain in Israeli strikes. The only other operatives referred to as commanders were Taleb Abdullah — the commander of the Nasr regional division — killed last month, and Wissam al-Tawil — the deputy head of the terror group’s elite Radwan unit — killed by Israel in January.

Several hours after the strike, the IDF confirmed that it had killed Nasser, who it said since 2016 commanded Hezbollah’s Aziz unit, one of three regional divisions in south Lebanon. The unit is responsible for Lebanon’s southwestern region, from the coast to the Bint Jbeil area, and has carried out hundreds of attacks against northern Israel’s upper and western Galilee amid the war.

According to the IDF, he is the second most senior Hezbollah commander it has killed amid the ongoing fighting alongside fellow regional division head Abdullah. Nasser previously commanded Hezbollah special forces, and was involved in numerous attacks against Israel, including the 2006 cross-border kidnapping of soldiers Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev.

Hezbollah commanders Muhammad Nasser (right) and Taleb Abdullah, in an undated photo released by Hezbollah on June 3, 2024. (Hezbollah media office)

The killing of Abdullah in June sparked an escalation in drone and rocket attacks from Lebanon on northern towns and IDF bases in the days following the airstrike, including a barrage of 215 rockets.

The IDF expected Hezbollah to also respond with major attacks to Nasser’s killing. In the hours following the airstrike, at least 100 rockets were fired from Lebanon at Kiryat Shmona, other areas in the Galilee Panhandle, as well as at the northern Golan Heights, the military said.

The IDF said most of the rockets struck open areas. There were no reports of injuries.

Smoke billows following Israeli strikes in the village of Shihin in southern Lebanon near the border with Israel on June 28, 2024. (Kawnat HAJU/ AFP)

In comments released by his office shortly after the airstrike, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said Israeli forces would be ready to take any action necessary against Hezbollah, although Israel would still prefer to reach a negotiated deal.

Speaking to troops along the Gaza border, Gallant said that IDF tanks exiting Rafah “can reach as far as the Litani” — a reference to a Lebanon river 10 miles north of Israel’s border, and the line to which Israel is demanding the terror group withdraw its forces.

“We are striking Hezbollah very hard every day, and we will also reach a state of full readiness to take any action required in Lebanon, or to reach an arrangement from a position of strength,” Gallant said in a statement from his office. “We prefer an arrangement, but if reality forces us we will know how to fight.”

Defense Minister Yoav Gallant visits troops on the Gaza border on July 3, 2024. (Ariel Hermoni/Defense Ministry)

Ongoing diplomatic efforts by Israeli allies to prevent an all-out war between Israel and Hezbollah have intensified in recent days amid fears of a wider escalation.

On Tuesday, French President Emmanuel Macron urged Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to prevent a “conflagration” between Israel and Hezbollah.

Macron “reiterated his serious concern over a deepening of tensions between Hezbollah and Israel… and underscored the absolute need to prevent a conflagration that would harm the interests of Lebanon as well as Israel,” the French presidency said in a statement.

US envoy Amos Hochstein, who has made repeated visits to Lebanon in recent months, was due in Paris on Wednesday where he was set to meet with Macron’s Lebanon envoy Jean-Yves Le Drian.

Since October 8, Hezbollah-led forces have attacked Israeli communities and military posts along the border on a near-daily basis. So far, the skirmishes on the border have resulted in 10 civilian deaths on the Israeli side, as well as the deaths of 15 IDF soldiers and reservists.

Hezbollah has named 359 members who have been killed by Israel during the ongoing skirmishes, mostly in Lebanon but some also in Syria. In Lebanon, another 65 operatives from other terror groups, a Lebanese soldier, and around 95 civilians have been killed.

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