Senior Hezbollah commander and 4 fighters killed in Israeli strike in Jwaya


An Israeli strike on southern Lebanon killed a senior Hezbollah commander overnight Tuesday, the group said.

It named the commander as Taleb Abdallah, also known as Abu Taleb, born in 1969, in a statement reporting his death.

A Lebanese military source said the commander was "the most important in Hezbollah to be killed up to now since the start of the war" between Israel and Palestinian militant group Hamas in Gaza, which has fueled violence on the Lebanon-Israel border.

The source said the strike hit the town of Jwaya, 15 kilometers from the Israeli border, and also killed three other people.

The group called on its supporters to attend Abdallah's funeral in the southern suburbs of Beirut, describing him as "one of the knights of the resistance."

Hezbollah media channels published a photograph of Abdallah next to Wissam Tawil, another senior commander killed in an Israeli air strike in January.

- ''Harsh blow' -

Pro-Hezbollah newspaper al-Akhbar described the strike that killed Abdallah as "a harsh blow" to the group.

His killing "represents a... dangerous escalation on behalf of the enemy" raising "expectations that the confrontation will be managed differently," the paper said.

A Hezbollah official told The Associated Press that Abdallah was in charge of a large part of the Lebanon-Israel front, including the area facing the Israeli town of Kiryat Shmona, which Hezbollah has repeatedly attacked in recent days, causing fires in the area.

The official, who was not authorized to speak to media and spoke on condition of anonymity, said Abdallah had joined Hezbollah decades ago and took part in attacks against Israeli forces during their 18-year occupation of southern Lebanon that ended in May 2000.

Hezbollah announced seven of its fighters had been killed by Israeli fire since Tuesday, with a source close to the group telling AFP four of them were killed alongside Abdallah.

Hezbollah, a Hamas ally, has traded near-daily fire with Israeli forces since the Gaza war began, triggered by Hamas' October 7 attack.

Exchanges of fire between Hezbollah and Israeli forces have intensified over recent days, causing multiple brush fires on both sides of the border.

Without commenting directly on Tuesday's strike, the Israeli military said it hit a series of Hezbollah targets in southern Lebanon after a barrage of "50 launches" by Hezbollah into the Golan Heights on Tuesday morning.

More than eight months of cross-border violence have killed at least 467 people in Lebanon, including almost 90 civilians and at least 304 Hezbollah fighters, according to an AFP count.

Israeli authorities say at least 15 Israeli soldiers and 11 civilians have been killed in the fighting.

Tens of thousands of people have been displaced.

Last week, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that Israel was "prepared for a very intense operation" along the border with Lebanon and that "one way or another, we will restore security to the north."

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