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Hezbollah fires dozens of rockets in ‘initial response’ to killing of Hamas leader



Smoke billows over northern Israel, amid ongoing cross-border clashes, as seen from the southern Lebanese village of Dhayra along the Israeli border. Below are buildings in the Lebanese town of Tair Harfa, January 5, 2024 (AFP)
Smoke billows over northern Israel, amid ongoing cross-border clashes, as seen from the southern Lebanese village of Dhayra along the Israeli border. Below are buildings in the Lebanese town of Tair Harfa, January 5, 2024 (AFP)

The Hezbollah terror group in Lebanon fired a barrage of dozens of rockets into Israel on Saturday in a move it called “an initial response” to the alleged Israeli killing of Hamas terror chief Saleh al-Arouri in Lebanon last week. There were no reports of injuries.
The Israel Defense Forces said that some 40 rockets were fired from Lebanon at the Mount Meron area of northern Israel. Hezbollah said it targeted an Israeli military installation in the area with 62 “various types of missiles.”
The Iran-backed terror group said in a statement that the attack was “part of the initial response to the crime of assassinating the great leader Sheikh Saleh al-Arouri.”

The rocket salvo triggered incoming rocket and drone alerts in 90 communities across northern Israel, but the IDF said only the Mount Meron area was targeted.

In the afternoon, several more missiles were fired by Hezbollah at the northern communities of Yiftah and Avivim, with no reports of injuries.

The army said it struck a terror cell in southern Lebanon, responsible for some of the rocket launches at Mount Meron.

Later, the IDF said it carried out several waves of airstrikes on Hezbollah sites in Lebanon in response to the attacks on northern Israel.

In the first wave, the IDF said it hit targets in Ayta ash-Shab, Yaroun, and Ramyah, including rocket launch positions, military sites, and other infrastructure used by the terror group.

In a second wave, the IDF said fighter jets carried out strikes on two “significant” military compounds belonging to Hezbollah.

The sites, according to the IDF, housed infrastructure used by Hezbollah’s air defense unit.

The IDF said fighter jets and other aircraft hit further Hezbollah sites in southern Lebanon’s Rab el-Thalathine, Ramyah, Meiss el-Jabal, and Ayta ash-Shab.

The targets included Hezbollah cells, rocket launch positions, a command center, and other infrastructure used by the terror group, according to the IDF.

The IDF said a drone also struck the cell behind the later attack on Metula.

Amid the Israeli Air Force’s strikes, the IDF said Hezbollah fired a surface-to-air missile at an Israeli military drone over Lebanon, which did not hit the device.

The barrage, one of the largest since the start of skirmishes on the northern border linked to the outbreak of the Israel-Hamas war on October 7, came a day after Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah threatened that Israel’s northern residents would be “the first to pay the price if a full-scale war were to erupt” along the front.

Nasrallah also used the address to repeat many of the same threats against Israel that he made earlier this week, again vowing to avenge deputy Hamas chief Arouri’s killing in Beirut while remaining vague on the specifics.

Plumes of smoke near Mount Meron after sirens sound in some 90 communities near the northern border, January 6, 2024. (Screen grab used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)

Nasrallah said that all of Lebanon would be exposed to further Israeli strikes if the group did not react to the assassination of Arouri in Beirut, allegedly carried out by Israel.

“The response is coming. The decision has already been made. The matter now depends on what will unfold on the ground and on Allah,” Nasrallah said.

“We cannot remain silent on a violation of this magnitude because it means the whole of Lebanon would be exposed,” he asserted, adding that allowing Israel to succeed in its operations in Gaza would lead to the IDF following suit in Lebanon.

The attack on Arouri has sparked fears of a broader conflagration because he was the most high-profile figure to be killed since October 7 and because his death came in the first strike on the Lebanese capital since hostilities started.