Overnight IDF strikes hit Hezbollah sites in south Lebanon

US wants ‘de-escalation’ in north after Hezbollah fires largest rocket volley of war

Terror group vows to intensify attacks after top commander killed in Israeli strike; Iran’s Quds Force official says Hezbollah has 1 million rockets in arsenal

An anti-missile system fires interception missiles at rockets fired from Lebanon, seen from the northern town of Rosh Pina, June 12, 2024. (Ayal Margolin/Flash90)
An anti-missile system fires interception missiles at rockets fired from Lebanon, seen from the northern town of Rosh Pina, June 12, 2024. (Ayal Margolin/Flash90)

The United States on Wednesday urged “de-escalation” along Israel’s northern border after Hezbollah launched over 200 rockets, its largest barrage in the ongoing war, in response to Israel’s killing of a senior commander in the terror group.

Defense Minister Yoav Gallant and his US counterpart Lloyd Austin discussed efforts to “de-escalate tensions along the Israel-Lebanon border in the wake of Lebanese Hezbollah’s increased aggression,” a Pentagon statement said.

“We are concerned about an increase in activity in the north. We don’t want this to escalate to a broad regional conflict and we urge de-escalation,” a deputy Pentagon spokesperson told reporters after the call.

Hezbollah fired some 215 rockets at northern Israel Wednesday in response to the strike that killed Taleb Sami Abdullah, its most senior commander to die by Israel’s hand since the round of violence started eight months ago. The terror group began launching daily attacks on northern communities on October 8, saying it was doing so to support Hamas amid the war in Gaza.

The rockets and their interceptions sparked several fires in the north, which were brought under control by firefighters by the evening.

Hezbollah vowed to intensify its attacks along the border to avenge Abdullah’s death.

A speech made near the coffin of Taleb Abdullah, known as Abu Taleb, a senior field commander of the Hezbollah terror group who was killed in an Israeli strike, during his funeral in Beirut’s southern suburbs on June 12, 2024. (Photo by ANWAR AMRO / AFP)

“Our response after the martyrdom of Abu Taleb will be to intensify our operations in severity, strength, quantity, and quality,” senior Hezbollah official Hashem Saffieddine said during Abdullah’s funeral ceremony. “Let the enemy wait for us on the battlefield.”

Abdullah was behind numerous attacks on northern Israel in the past eight months, mostly against the city of Kiryat Shmona and other towns and army positions in the Galilee Panhandle, Upper Galilee, and the Golan Heights area, the IDF said.

Abdullah was also considered by the IDF to be a “source of knowledge” with many years of experience in the terror group. He was involved in a 2005 attempted kidnapping in Ghajar in northern Israel, and in the 2006 Second Lebanon War he was the commander of the Bint Jbeil area, according to the military.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu held a security assessment in the evening “in light of the developments in the north, and Hamas’s negative response regarding the release of the hostages,” his office said.

An official in Iran’s Quds Force, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard’s expeditionary wing that oversees Tehran’s proxies across the Middle East, told Foreign Policy in a report published Wednesday that precision-guided missiles, Katyusha rockets with boosted accuracy, and anti-tank missiles are part of Hezbollah’s arsenal, which includes over a million rockets of different types.

Should a full-scale war break out between Israel and Hezbollah along the country’s northern border, Israel’s health system could collapse and extended power outages could become the norm if thousands of rockets are launched daily at Israel, the Kan public broadcaster reported in February, citing a Health Ministry document.

Overnight, Israeli fighter jets struck several buildings used by Hezbollah in southern Lebanon’s Ayta ash-Shab, the military said.

Additional Hezbollah infrastructure was stuck in Aynata, the IDF added.

Meanwhile, the IDF said that sirens that sounded Thursday morning in the northern towns of Klil and Yehiam were triggered by an interceptor missile launched at a target that was later determined not to have been a threat, aka a “false identification.”

Several more sirens in the Kiryat Shmona area on Thursday were also false alarms, the IDF said.

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. There have also been several attacks from Syria, without any injuries.

Hezbollah has named 342 members who have been killed by Israel during the ongoing skirmishes, mostly in Lebanon but some also in Syria. In Lebanon, another 62 operatives from other terror groups, a Lebanese soldier, and dozens of civilians have been killed.

Israel has expressed openness to a diplomatic solution to the conflict but in the absence of one has threatened to go to war against Hezbollah to restore security to the north of Israel, from where tens of thousands of civilians are currently displaced.

While Israel’s political echelon has not yet made a decision on launching an offensive in Lebanon and turning the Gaza Strip into the secondary front, the IDF said it continues to target Hezbollah commanders behind attacks on Israel.

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