April 16, 2024

Israel kills local Hezbollah commander in Lebanon strike

Israel kills local Hezbollah commander in Lebanon strike

An Israeli strike killed a local Hezbollah commander in south Lebanon on Tuesday, the Israeli army and a source close to the powerful Iran-backed movement said.

Israel and Hamas ally Hezbollah have been exchanging near-daily cross-border fire since the Palestinian militant group attacked southern Israel on October 7, triggering war in the Gaza Strip.

Tuesday’s strike came with regional tensions high after Iran launched missile and drone attacks on Israel over the weekend in retaliation for a deadly Israeli strike on Tehran’s consulate in Damascus.

The Israeli military said its “aircraft struck and eliminated Ismail Yusef Baz, the commander of Hezbollah’s coastal sector”, adding he was killed in the Ain Baal area.

The official National News Agency reported one dead in an Israeli strike on a car in Ain Baal, about 15 kilometres (nine miles) from the border, later saying “enemy warplanes” struck two cars in Shehabiya, about 10 kilometres from Ain Baal, reporting casualties.

Hezbollah announced in a statement that Baz had been killed, without mentioning his rank or role.

But a source close to the group told AFP that “the field commander in charge of the Naqura region” had been killed “in an Israeli strike”.

Hezbollah said it launched Katyusha rockets on a base in northern Israel’s Beit Hillel “in response to the Israeli enemy’s attacks” on Lebanese villages, “the latest of which was in Ain Baal”.

Earlier Tuesday, Hezbollah claimed an attack on Beit Hillel using explosive drones, with local Israeli authorities saying three people were wounded.

The Israeli military said “two armed” drones entered from Lebanon and exploded near Beit Hillel.

Hezbollah had said its fighters launched an “air attack with suicide drones in two phases… striking the Iron Dome (air defence system) platforms and their crew” in the area.

On Monday, Hezbollah targeted Israeli troops with explosive devices, wounding four soldiers who crossed into Lebanese territory — the first such attack in six months of clashes.

The violence has killed at least 365 people in Lebanon, mostly Hezbollah fighters but also including at least 70 civilians, according to an AFP tally.

In Israel, the military says 10 soldiers and eight civilians have been killed since hostilities began.

Tens of thousands of civilians have fled their homes on both sides of the border.