Hezbollah launches massive rocket barrage on Israel’s north

By David Brummer

Hezbollah forces in Lebanon
Hezbollah forces in Lebanon

JERUSALEM – Israel’s north came under heavy bombardment today, as Iranian Shi’ite proxy group Hezbollah responded to the IDF’s killing yesterday of one of its senior commanders, Muhammad Nimah Nasser, also known as Abu Nimah.

Hezbollah claimed to Al-Jazeera that it had fired some 200 rockets and at least 20 drones at targets in northern Israel, several of them thought to be IDF military bases. The IDF subsequently released a statement saying Hezbollah fired 160 rockets at northern Israel, and launched 15 drones; the majority of which were shot down.

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Sirens blared for several hours of Thursday morning across large swathes of northern Israel, including the areas that abut the Lebanese border, as well as parts of the Western Galilee, including Acre and Nahariya. In the Golan, which stretches from the banks of the Sea of Galilee to the border area between Lebanon and Syria, there were also several incoming drone and rocket alert sirens. There were reports in Katzrin, a town with a population of some 7,500 people that lies about 50 kilometers south of Israel’s highest point – Mt. Hermon – and only approximately 12 miles from Lebanon’s southernmost settlement, of power outages.

In response, Israel Air Force jets hit multiple targets in southern Lebanon. A post in Hebrew on the official IDF X account said, “Following the activation of alerts in the north of the country regarding the infiltration of hostile aircraft and the firing of missiles and rockets, suspicious aerial targets and launches that crossed from Lebanon were identified. The air defense fighters and fighter jets… successfully intercepted several targets and launchers.” Indeed, Lebanon’s National News Agency reported Israeli jets broke the sound barrier in Beirut and other parts of Lebanon.

The barrages sparked numerous fires across northern Israel, which has experienced temperatures well above 90 degrees Fahrenheit for several weeks, turning grassland into tinder. Indeed, while the Israeli government officially evacuated tens of thousands of people from border towns in the north to places farther south, some agricultural workers still remain, including those who work in the many vineyards dotted around that part of the country. It is estimated that some 4,100 acres of forested land have been burned since Hezbollah started launching rockets on October 8, 2023. Israel is perhaps the only country on the planet that ended the twentieth century with more trees than it had started with 100 years previously.

Tensions remain very high in the region, in spite of some evidence of marginal progress regarding a ceasefire between Hamas and Israel in Gaza. According to reports in both the Israeli and wider media, a halt to the fighting in the coastal enclave would provide Hezbollah with an off-ramp to de-escalate the situation on Israel’s northern border. Indeed, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is due to speak with U.S. President Joe Biden today about the Gaza situation. This will be followed in the evening with Netanyahu holding a cabinet meeting to come up with a reply to Hamas’ latest response to a proposal for a hostage deal and possible pause to the war.

The IDF top brass has intimated that the war against Hamas should be drawn down. They have argued about a lack of remaining significant targets, as well as already having carried out a largely successful campaign of greatly reducing Hamas’ fighting capabilities. They also seem to understand the need to potentially focus on the much bigger issue of the threat Hezbollah faces across the northern border. However, it appears the military rationale for ceasing the fighting and the requirements of political expediency are misaligned.

At a memorial event for Hezbollah’s slain commander, another senior leader warned Israel that the terrorist group would aim its missiles at new and unexpected sites. Hashem Safieddine said, “The series of responses continues in succession, and this series will continue to target new sites that the enemy did not imagine would be hit,” according to the Times of Israel.

Meanwhile, Israeli-Arab influencer Yoseph Haddad took to his social media channels and warned his hundreds of thousands of followers, “We’ve lost the north. Hezbollah is firing missiles and launching drones with impunity; it doesn’t matter which leader we’ve eliminated, if we allow this to continue without declaring war. What are we waiting for? That they will repeat the slaughter of October 7?! If there are rockets falling on Akko, it is time that missiles will fall on Hezbollah areas – including Beirut.”

“The people of the north have for nine months been evicted from their homes; and Hezbollah struts around as if they own the place. It’s a security weakness that is impossible to live with. If we don’t have leaders who are prepared to release the IDF from its shackles and act in a way that the people would support to relieve the north, then make way for leadership that does have the balls to do the necessary work.”

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