Israeli planes bombed Lebanon while Hezbollah fired a more powerful missile
BEIRUT (Reuters) – Lebanese Hezbollah said it carried out simultaneous attacks on Israeli positions on the Lebanese border on Saturday, as residents in southern Lebanon described some of the heaviest Israeli strikes yet in weeks of cross-border clashes.
The Israeli army said that its warplanes bombed Hezbollah targets in response to a previous attack from Lebanese territory, and that the air strikes were accompanied by artillery and tank shelling.
A Lebanese source familiar with Hezbollah’s attacks said that the group fired a powerful missile that had not yet been used in the fighting, saying that it hit an Israeli position across the border from the villages of Aita al-Shaab and Rmeish.
Hezbollah has been exchanging fire with Israeli forces across the Lebanese-Israeli border since its Palestinian ally, Hamas, entered the war with Israel on October 7.
This represents the worst fighting on the border since the 2006 war, but has been mostly contained to the border area.
In his first speech since the start of the war between Hamas and Israel, Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah said on Friday that the escalation on the Lebanese front will depend on the events in Gaza and Israeli measures towards Lebanon. He also said that attacks so far on the border “will not be all that Hezbollah does.”
About 60 Hezbollah fighters were killed in the violence.
Security sources and witnesses in Lebanon reported some of the heaviest Israeli strikes to date.
Two thick columns of smoke were seen rising over hills near the Lebanese town of Khiam in a video clip sent to Reuters by one of Khiam’s residents, Suhail Salami, who said that the area had been subjected to an Israeli air strike.
Fouad Khreis, who also spoke to Reuters from Khiam, said, “The bombing intensified a lot today. The resistance bombing and counter-bombing by the Israelis.” He added, “Four shells fell on the outskirts of the town of Khiam, without causing any casualties.”
The Israeli army said that among the targets struck were “terrorist infrastructure, missile bunkers and complexes used by” Hezbollah.
Israel said it was not interested in the conflict on its northern border. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu last month warned Hezbollah against opening a second war front, saying doing so would lead to Israeli counterstrikes of an “unimaginable” size that would wreak “devastation” on Lebanon.
(Reporting by Laila Bassam in Beirut and Dan Williams in Jerusalem; Writing by Tom Perry; Editing by Ross Russell)