18 wounded in Hezbollah attacks


What’s happened: 18 people were wounded, including 13 reservists, after Hezbollah launched anti-tank missiles and drones toward the Israeli village of Arab al-Aramshe yesterday.

  • One IDF reservist is in critical condition and four others seriously wounded.
  • The drone was an Iranian-made Ababeel-2T drone, which is capable of providing a real-time video feed to its operator and can carry a payload of more than 40 kilograms of explosives.
  • The army is investigating why the launches were not intercepted.
  • In response, Israeli fighter jets attacked the launch pads as well as a military structure where Hezbollah members were residing in the southern Lebanese village of Ayta ash Shab. Israel also carried out an airstrike against a site belonging to Hezbollah’s air defence unit in northeast Lebanon’s Baalbek, almost 60 miles from the border.
  • This morning, Israeli fighter jets attacked military buildings and other Hezbollah infrastructure in the area of Khiam, southern Lebanon. IDF aircraft also fired at two Hezbollah operatives in the area of the village of Kafr Kila. Both the IDF and Hezbollah report the deaths of two Hezbollah operatives in the latter strike.
  • Rocket sirens were activated in several communities along the Israel-Lebanon border, including Kfar Yuval, Kfar Giladi and Metula.
  • Yesterday’s attacks follow further escalation on Tuesday, when four Golani Brigade soldiers were wounded in a cross-border operation, amid the firing of dozens of rockets at IDF bases, including the Mt. Meron base and a second base that, according to Hizbullah, houses an Iron Dome battery.
  • Two Hezbollah armed drones also infiltrated Israeli airspace from Lebanon and exploded near Beit Hillel, slightly wounding three Israelis.
  • Two high-ranking Hezbollah commanders were also killed in Israeli air strikes in southern Lebanon: Ismail Yousef Baz, the commander of Hezbollah’s coastal district, killed in a strike on a car near Tyre; and Muhammad Hussein Mustafa Shehoury
  • In other news, fallout continues from Iran’s attack against Israel on April 13th.
  • Following UK and German Foreign Ministers Cameron and Baerbock’s visit to Israel yesterday, Prime Minister Netanyahu told a cabinet meeting that the two gave “all kinds of suggestions and advice”. Netanyahu said that Israel appreciated it, but that Israelis would “make our own decisions, and… do everything necessary to defend itself.”
  • While in Israel, Cameron told reporters that while Israel had the right to respond to Iran, the UK hoped it would do so “in a way that is smart as well as tough and also does as little as possible to escalate this conflict.”
  • “The real need,” Cameron added, “is to refocus back on Hamas, back on the hostages, back on getting the aid in, back on getting a pause in the conflict in Gaza,”
  • In slightly stronger remarks, having first suggested the Europe would act so that “Iran and its proxies such as Hezbollah or the Houthis must not be allowed to add fuel to the fire,” Baerbock said that “everyone must now act prudently and responsibly.”
  • “I’m not talking about giving in,” she added. “I’m talking about prudent restraint, which is nothing less than strength. Because Israel has already shown strength with its defensive victory at the weekend.”

Context: Israel’s strike in Baalbeck, where Hezbollah’s Aerial Defence Array is located, is the sixth time Israel has struck Hezbollah positions in the area since 7 October. (For a detailed analysis of recent escalation in the north, see BICOM’s recent paper ‘Challenging the Iranian presence in the north’.)

  • Although not responding as Hamas desired in its call for full-scale assault from all members of the “Axis of Resistance” on October 7th, Hezbollah has proceeded with multi-site daily rocket attacks on northern Israel. Analysis from the Centre for Strategic and International Studies claims there have been 4,400 “violent incidents” in the border area since October 8th. This includes, according to the IDF, over 2,800 missiles which have been fired at northern Israel from southern Lebanon and Syria.
  • In comparison with previous rounds of fighting with Israel, Hezbollah is increasingly deploying more sophisticated weaponry, including Iranian-produced Almas anti-tank guided missiles with a 10-kilometre range and the shorter range Burkan with its heavy payload. Iranian-produced Hezbollah UAVs have also been used in at least 40 attacks on Israel since October 7th, some fatal.
  • Seven Israeli civilians and 12 soldiers have been killed and around 300 fighters on the Lebanese side of the border (mostly Hezbollah, along with some Palestinian militants who operate with its approval). Meanwhile, 80,000 northern Israelis from 28 border communities remain displaced, along with a similar number of southern Lebanese.
  • US and French attempts at brokering a sustainable ceasefire on the northern border have so far failed to produce results. In mid-February, France submitted a proposal to Lebanon to secure a ceasefire and resolve Lebanon’s border disputes with Israel.
  • European Union leaders decided yesterday to step up sanctions against Iran. “The European Union will take further restrictive measures against Iran, notably in relation to unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and missiles,” leaders said in a joint statement.
  • An Egyptian source told London-based Qatari newspaper Al-Araby Al-Jadeed that the US agreed to the Israeli plan for a military operation in Rafah in exchange for a limited response against Iran.

Looking ahead: Israel continues to calibrate the nature of its response to the Iranian attacks.

  • Its western allies, while strongly condemning Iran and pledging their continued support in combating Iranian attacks on Israel, have urged Israel to show restraint in its response to prevent further regional escalation.
  • Three Israeli sources told ABC News that Israel prepared for and then aborted retaliatory strikes on at least two nights this week. According to the report, the war cabinet was presented with several different options, including attacking Iranian proxies not on Iranian soil, or a potential cyberattack.
  • Israel’s Kan public broadcaster reported that the cabinet had already approved a series of possible responses depending on the scope of the Iranian attack, which were slated to be carried out immediately following the Iranian attack but were shelved after PM Netanyahu spoke to President Biden