What’s happened: Sirens sounded across the north of Israel as about 30 rockets were launched from Lebanon on Thursday.
- Hezbollah claimed to be targeting a military base close to Mount Meron, with reports of several explosions in the area. An IDF soldier was seriously injured and evacuated to receive treatment in hospital, while two other reservists were slightly injured.
- In addition, communities in the Upper Galilee, including Dalton, Kerem Ben Zimra and Kadita faced a heavy barrage last night, as did Kiryat Shmona, Birnit and Mount Hermon earlier. All of these rockets landed in open, unpopulated areas, causing no damage or casualties.
- The increased fire followed an apparent targeted drone strike on a vehicle in Nabatieh, southern Lebanon. It is understood that the target was a Hezbollah commander, who according to Lebanese sources was wounded, but not killed.
- IDF fighter jets also struck “infrastructure, observation posts, and a military site belonging to Hezbollah” in the area of Khiam in southern Lebanon. According to the IDF, “approximately one sixth of the rocket launches from Lebanon have been fired from the area of Khiam,” most recently towards Kiryat Shmona.
- On Friday morning, the IDF said they “successfully intercepted a suspicious aerial target above the Haifa maritime space. In accordance with protocol, no sirens were sounded.”
- Earlier this week, the IDF revealed it has attacked more than 3,400 Hezbollah targets so far in the war.
- Israel has killed more than 200 combatants, at least 184 from Hezbollah, with others from various Palestinian terrorist factions.
- Israel has destroyed around 40 weapons storerooms hidden in the area close to the Israeli border, and has destroyed about 120 Hezbollah observation posts.
- As a result of Hezbollah attacks, 15 Israelis have been killed in the north. Around 80,000 Israeli citizens were evacuated from their homes and remain internally displaced.
- A similar number of Lebanese in the south have also left their homes.
- Yesterday, the London based Saudi newspaper Asharq al-Awsat claimed damage in Lebanon as a result of the ongoing war with Israel is estimated at around $1.2 billion.
- Relating to Thursday’s alleged targeted strike, Arab media sources identified the high-ranking target as Abbas Al-Debes, who has connections to Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and was helping Iran set up air defences in Syria. Israeli media said Al-Debes was also Hezbollah’s regional commander in Khiam.
- Earlier this week IDF Spokesperson Hagari said, “The security reality in the north is already being remoulded now and will continue to be remoulded moving ahead. We won’t revert to the security reality as existed on October 6. The State of Israel is a different country. Hezbollah won’t threaten the residents of the north and deceive the world.”
- Despite ongoing attacks, US and French efforts to reach a diplomatic solution to reduce tension and allow Israelis to return safely to their homes are ongoing.
- According to Lebanese newspaper Al-Nahar, the latest French proposal calls for:
- Hezbollah to withdraw 10 km north of the border, including all their weapons north of the Litani river (as stipulated in UN Resolution 1701 following the 2006 Lebanon War).
- Beginning negotiations on the disputed land border.
- Deployment of thousands of Lebanese army soldiers and UNIFIL soldiers in the border area.
- In 2000, Israel unilaterally withdrew to the UN recognised Blue Line. Nevertheless, Hezbollah claims 16 points where the border is disputed, using this as a prerequisite to attack Israel.
* For more on Hezbollah and the situation on Israel’s northern border, listen to BICOM’s recent podcast with Lt. Col. (res.) Sarit Zehavi.
Looking ahead: In preparation for a potential escalation in the north, this week the IDF revealed that so far over 50 battalion exercises and over 120 company exercises have been conducted in the Northern Training Centre.
- Since forces were pulled out of Gaza, training has focused on “increasing its readiness for operational plans against the northern enemy – in defence and offence.”
- Part of the training involves “making adjustments for combat in the north, including the various challenges regarding terrain and the enemy.”
- This week the Israel Air Force (IAF) held “an operational conference,” for all commanders in the IAF from the rank of Lt. Col. The head of the IAF Maj Gen Tomer Bar said, “Hezbollah will continue to pay with the loss of its systems. Dozens of aircraft are now operating in the skies of southern Lebanon, and the moment an order is given – the dozens will turn into hundreds carrying out the missions within minutes from launch.”