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January 8, 2024

Israeli strike kills Hezbollah commander in Lebanon

Israeli strike kills Hezbollah commander in Lebanon

An Israeli soldier wearing a patch on the back of his flack jacket showing Lebanon’s Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah as a target, stands in front of a self-propelled artillery howitzer in Upper Galilee in northern Israel, as an artillery unit shells southern Lebanon on January 4, 2024. Nasrallah warned Israel against all-out conflict, after Israeli army chief Herzi Halevi, in a visit to the Lebanese border, said troops were “in very high readiness”. (Photo by jalaa marey / AFP)

Israel killed a top commander of the Iran-backed Hezbollah group in a strike on south Lebanon, a security source told AFP Monday, adding to fears the conflict in Gaza could spread.

Hezbollah later announced the killing of a “commander” for the first time, naming him as Wissam Hassan Tawil. It said he died “on the road to Jerusalem” — the phrase used for fighters killed by Israel.

Tawil “had a leading role in managing Hezbollah’s operations in the south”, the security official said, requesting anonymity for security reasons.

The official added that the commander, who held several other top positions in the group, “was killed in an Israeli strike targeting his car in the south”.

Tawil was the highest-ranking Hezbollah member to be killed since the group and Israel began exchanging near-daily cross-border fire after the Israel-Hamas war broke out on October 7.

The killing of Hamas’s deputy leader in Beirut last week has raised fears of a wider conflagration.

Saleh al-Aruri, killed in a missile strike widely attributed to Israel, was the most high-profile Hamas figure to die during the war, in the first attack on Beirut since the fighting began.

On Friday, Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah warned Israel his fighters would respond swiftly to Aruri’s killing. The group claimed an attack on an Israeli air control base the next day.

On Saturday, European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell met Mohammed Raad, head of Hezbollah’s parliamentary bloc, in Beirut as part of a push to avoid Lebanon being dragged into the Israel-Hamas conflict.

In November, Raad’s son was killed in an Israeli strike in south Lebanon along with five other fighters, the group had said.

Nearly three months of cross-border fire have killed more than 180 people in Lebanon, including over 135 Hezbollah fighters, but also more than 20 civilians including three journalists, according to an AFP tally.

In northern Israel, nine soldiers and at least four civilians have been killed, according to Israeli authorities.

AFP