ISRAEL AT WAR - DAY 143

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Hezbollah chief Nasrallah meets Iran's FM in Beirut

Top Hamas official in Lebanon survives alleged Israeli strike; 3 others killed

Basel Salah, believed injured, is a recruiter for the terror group; Hezbollah member among dead in attack 40 kilometers north of border; rocket strikes building in Kiryat Shmona

Lebanese army soldiers gather around a damaged car near the coastal town of Jadra, south Lebanon, February 10, 2024. (AP Photo/Mohammed Zaatari)
Lebanese army soldiers gather around a damaged car near the coastal town of Jadra, south Lebanon, February 10, 2024. (AP Photo/Mohammed Zaatari)

A senior Hamas member targeted in an alleged Israeli airstrike in Lebanon 40 kilometers from the Israeli border survived the attack Saturday, a Palestinian security official told AFP, as rockets continued to target Israeli northern communities.

Two other people were killed in the strike in Lebanon, including one Hezbollah operative.

Lebanon’s state-run National News Agency said an Israeli drone struck a car in the coastal town of Jadra, about 40 kilometers (25 miles) from the border.

The target of the alleged Israeli airstrike was Basel Salah, a Hamas operative charged with recruiting and managing members of the terror group, including in the West Bank, The Times of Israel learned.

The Hamas unit Salah was a member of was headed by Azzam Al-Aqraa, who was killed in the alleged Israeli strike in Beirut last month that also killed the terror group’s deputy leader Saleh al-Arouri.

Salah, whose condition is unknown but who is believed to have been injured in Saturday’s strike, was allegedly involved in recruiting Hamas members for years, even amid the war in Gaza.

The strike took place deeper into Lebanese territory than the usual exchanges of fire between Hamas ally Hezbollah and the Israeli military, which have been mostly limited to the border region.

There was no immediate comment from the Israeli military.

Northern communities continued to be targeted by projectiles throughout Saturday, with a missile fired from Lebanon striking a building in Kiryat Shmona, causing damage. Local authorities said there were no reports of injuries.

In response to Hezbollah’s ongoing attacks in the north, the IDF said fighter jets carried out strikes against a building used by the terror group in south Lebanon’s Bint Jbeil, an observation post in Markaba, three command centers in Naqoura and Ayta ash-Shab where members of the terror group were gathered, and two other sites in Khiam and Marwahin.

The IDF also said it shelled the launch sites of three projectiles that were fired from Lebanon toward the northern community of Shlomi. The projectiles landed in open areas.

On Friday night the IDF had said it struck a Hezbollah command center and another site used by the terror group’s air defense unit.

Meanwhile, the IDF said a suspected drone infiltration alarm that sounded in northern Israel on Saturday afternoon was a false alarm.

At the same time, the Iran-backed terror group claimed Saturday that it had seized an Israeli Skylark drone over Lebanese air space “in good condition.” The Skylark is a small, unmanned aerial vehicle typically used for surveillance and produced by Israel-based weapons manufacturer Elbit Systems.

Many such comparatively inexpensive unmanned aerial vehicles, which are used primarily for reconnaissance missions, have crashed in hostile territory over the years.

As fighting raged between Israel and Hezbollah, Iran’s Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian met in Beirut with Lebanese leaders, including the country’s caretaker prime minister, parliament speaker and the terror group’s chief Hassan Nasrallah.

Hezbollah published pictures from the meeting that took place in an undisclosed location.

The terror group said the two discussed developments in Gaza, the situation in southern Lebanon — where Hezbollah has traded fire daily with Israel across the border since Hamas’s October 7 attack — and other fronts on the “axis of resistance.”

This handout picture provided by Hezbollah’s media office on February 10, 2024, shows Lebanese Shiite terror group’s leader, Hassan Nasrallah, meeting with Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian at an undisclosed location in Lebanon. (Photo by Hezbollah’s Media Office / AFP)

At a press conference with his Lebanese counterpart, Amir-Abdollahian said neither Iran nor Lebanon sought a wider war.

“Iran and Lebanon confirm that war is not the solution and that we absolutely never sought to expand it,” he said.

So far, the skirmishes on the border have resulted in six civilian deaths on the Israeli side, as well as the deaths of nine IDF soldiers and reservists. There have also been several attacks from Syria, without any injuries.

Hezbollah has named 186 members who have been killed by Israel during the ongoing skirmishes, mostly in Lebanon but some also in Syria. In Lebanon, another 25 operatives from other terror groups, a Lebanese soldier and at least 19 civilians, three of whom were journalists, have been killed.

Hezbollah has intensified its attacks over the past two days, firing a barrage of over 30 rockets at northern Israel on both Thursday and Friday evening.

Top Israeli officials have repeatedly threatened to go to war in Lebanon following the campaign to root out Hamas in Gaza, with the aim of driving Hezbollah away from the border in accordance with UN Security Council Resolution 1701, which ended the Second Lebanon War in 2006.

Israel has said it cannot tolerate Hezbollah forces along its border, where they could launch a murderous attack on civilians in a similar vein to Hamas’s October 7 onslaught.

It has increasingly warned that if the international community does not push Hezbollah away from the border through diplomatic means, Israel will take action.

Due to the concerns of another war between Israel and Hezbollah, Lebanese officials said Thursday that foreign diplomats have intensified their efforts to restore calm to the volatile Lebanon-Israel border in parallel with the ongoing negotiations for a hostage deal and accompanying truce in Gaza.

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