Israel Kills Senior Hezbollah Commander in Airstrike in Southern Lebanon

Hezbollah Mourns Slain Figure, Downplays Military Significance of Loss

In a move which analysts and unnamed officials predict will lead to further escalation in southern Lebanon, Israel carried out an airstrike January 8 against the town of Khirbet Selem, assassinating Wissam Hassan Tawil, a senior Hezbollah commander.

Tawil, also known as al-Haj Jawad, was killed when his vehicle was hit by an Israeli drone attack. Hezbollah confirmed the death, calling him the highest-ranking figure to be killed since the new “war in the south” began.

Hezbollah issued a statement mourning Tawil’s loss, but at the same time downplayed the military significance of it, saying “the resistance is not a list of individuals that can be killed one by one.”

Tawil was a commander of Hezbollah’s Radwan special forces and acted as an adviser on military strategy in the south. However, while the Hezbollah expects to continue its fight against Israel relatively unaffected, his loss will be felt as a serious blow.

The drone strike comes just after a flurry of Hezbollah rocket fire badly damaged Israel’s Mt. Meron strategic airbase, a source of air control for northern Israel. Israeli officials may have launched the January 8 attack to show their ongoing ability to operate despite the Mt. Meron attack, although damage there was said to be “extensive.”

Israeli media said another Hezbollah fighter was killed alongside Tawil, although Lebanese state media reported he was traveling alone and that no other casualties were reported in the strike. A security source was reported as predicting “things will flare up now.”

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.