Hezbollah Fires Rockets at Northern Israel After Deadliest Day of Strikes

More Israeli attacks reported Thursday on southern Lebanon

Mourners were out in numbers in southern Lebanon Thursday following the single deadliest day of Israeli airstrikes against the border region in some four months of escalating violence. Wednesday’s attacks appeared to be the start of a new campaign, as additional Israeli attacks were reported in the south on Thursday, leading to criticism by Lebanese PM Najib Mikati.

Israeli Army Chief Herzi Halevi  suggested that the escalation was only beginning, declaring that the Israeli forces were “intensifying strikes all the time.” Israel reported “dozens” of Hezbollah targets were hit on Thursday, though confirmation of any casualties is not yet available. Similarly, return rockets fired by Hezbollah hit northern Israel without any casualties being reported.

Ten civilians were reported killed Wednesday, five of them identified as children. Seven of the civilians were killed in a single attack on a multi-story building in Nabatieh. Analysts suggested this amounted to Israel testing the limits of their current “rules of engagement” with strikes.

The other civilians slain were in Soueneh, where the Israeli attack killed a mother and two children. Three Hezbollah members were also reported killed, though there is some dispute as to their identities.

Israel identified one of the slain as a commander named Ali Muhammad Aldbas, along with his deputy and another unnamed figure. Hezbollah did confirm three members were lost in the attacks, but did not identify any of them, let alone mention losing a commander. This doesn’t preclude that Aldbas was among those killed, but Hezbollah almost always names commanders in statements when they are lost in a strike.

Hezbollah offered a statement promising retaliation for the latest attack, and indeed early reports were of dozens of rockets being fired from southern Lebanon at towns in northern Israel. There are as of yet no reports on the damage done in Israel or any casualties.

Hezbollah officials commenting on planned retaliation said Israel would “pay the price,” and added that they believed the organization has a “legitimate right to defend its people.”

Israel has been talking of an outright military offensive against southern Lebanon, with military figures saying tens of thousands of troops would be involved. It is expected that Israel will have to rely heavily on an air war in Lebanon, however, with so many of their troops already committed to the Gaza Strip.

The international community has tried to broker a deal which would avoid fighting on the northern Israeli border. So far Hezbollah has said any deal would necessarily have to include a Gaza ceasefire, which seems to be a non-starter in Israel. The Israeli military also appears keen to carry out the offensive in Lebanon, if for no other reason than to prove they can do so.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for Antiwar.com. 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.