Hezbollah shells Kiryat Shmona in response to Israel's killing of civilians


Hezbollah said Thursday it had fired dozens of rockets into northern Israel, a day after Israeli strikes killed 15 people, including one of its commanders.

"Islamic resistance fighters fired dozens of Katyusha-type rockets at Kiryat Shmona," an Israeli town near the Lebanese border, Hezbollah said in a statement.

It said the rocket fire was "a first response" to the deadly Israeli strikes on the southern city of Nabatiyeh and Souaneh.

Hamas ally Hezbollah and its arch-foe Israel have been exchanging near-daily fire across the border since the Israel-Hamas war broke out on October 7.

In the bloodiest day for Lebanon since then, the Israeli military said it had killed Hezbollah commander Ali al-Debs, his deputy and another fighter in Nabatiyeh on Wednesday.

Along with Debs and two other Hezbollah members, the strike had killed seven civilians from the same family.

The deaths brought to 10 the total number of civilians killed in Israeli strikes on Wednesday, the highest single day toll since the cross-border hostilities erupted.

The Israeli army said it carried out Wednesday's strikes after a soldier was killed by rocket fire from Lebanon.

Debs had already been targeted and wounded in an Israeli drone strike in the southern city on February 8.

- 'Aggression' -

Lebanon's state-run National News Agency identified five of the civilians killed in Nabatiyeh as Hussein Barjawi, his two daughters, his sister and his grandson. His wife and niece were also killed, the security source said.

Emergency responders pulled a boy alive from the rubble, the NNA added, while another relative and at least six other people were taken to hospital.

The news agency said the Israeli strike was carried out by "a drone with a guided missile".

An AFP photographer said the ground and first floors of the three-storey residential building were hit, with pieces of furniture strewn among the rubble.

Also on Wednesday, the NNA said Israeli warplanes targeted a house in the southern village of Sawwaneh, killing three members of the same family -- a Syrian woman and her child, aged two, and stepchild, 13.

- 'Deeply concerning' -

Fears have been growing of another full-blown war between Israel and Hezbollah, like that of 2006.

Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati condemned the latest deadly Israeli strikes.

He said that while Lebanon urged "all parties" to avoid escalation, "we find that the Israeli enemy keeps up its aggression", adding that Beirut would lodge a complaint with the U.N. Security Council.

The U.N. peacekeeping mission in Lebanon (UNIFIL) urged "intensified" diplomatic efforts "to restore stability and safeguard the safety of civilians".

"The devastation, loss of life and injuries witnessed are deeply concerning," said UNIFIL spokesman Andrea Tenenti, urging "all parties involved to halt hostilities immediately to prevent further escalation".

U.N. humanitarian coordinator for Lebanon Imran Riza said "the rules of war are clear: parties must protect civilians".

The cross-border exchanges have killed at least 262 people on the Lebanese side, most of them Hezbollah fighters but also including 40 civilians, according to an AFP tally.

On the Israeli side, 10 soldiers and six civilians have been killed, according to the Israeli army.

Comments 1
Thumb i.report 15 February 2024, 23:10

Hezbollah's decision to target Kiryat Shmona is certainly driven, in part, by the need to appease its support base. The organization faces internal pressure to respond to Yesterday's strikes, as failing to do so might erode further its legitimacy among the Shia community. By demonstrating a response, even if focused on infrastructure rather than direct harm to civilians or IDF servicemen, Hezbollah seeks to maintain its perceived commitment to defending its constituents.
'Perception' is the key word here.