update deskIsrael at War

IDF soldier moderately injured, fires rage as Hezbollah ramps up attacks

The soldier was hit by shrapnel from an interception that sparked a blaze near Safed.

A fire that started from a fragments of a Patriot missile interception at the Biriya Forest in Northern Israel, June 4, 2024. Photo by David Cohen/Flash90.
A fire that started from a fragments of a Patriot missile interception at the Biriya Forest in Northern Israel, June 4, 2024. Photo by David Cohen/Flash90.

Shrapnel fragments from Israeli interceptors moderately injured an IDF soldier on Tuesday morning, while also sparking a fire near the northern Israeli city of Safed.

The soldier was evacuated to a hospital for treatment and his family was notified, according to the IDF, which said that the interceptors were launched following a warning about a suspicious aerial object crossing from Lebanon, which turned out to be a false alarm.

The fire broke out in the Biriya Forest near Safed, after a series of blazes caused by Hezbollah attacks the previous day were brought under control.

Two firefighting teams arrived at the scene, with Safed and nearby towns not threatened, according to the Marom Hagalil Regional Council.

The fire was apparently caused by falling shrapnel from an interception, after sirens sounded in several communities in the Galilee region.

Also, two drones launched from Lebanon were downed over Israel’s Upper Galilee near the border.

In addition, the IDF said that air defense fighters intercepted a suspicious aerial target that crossed from Lebanon over the maritime space of Nahariya. No sirens sounded because the target was tracked over the water.

Alarms were heard in northern Israel throughout the morning hours.

According to the Israel Fire and Rescue Services, more than 30 fire crews were working to extinguish the blazes, with several major road closures in the Galilee.

The Israel Defense Forces said that its troops were working with fire-and-rescue personnel to gain control over the fires in the north, adding that six reservists lightly hurt from smoke inhalation were transported to a hospital.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office stated on Monday that he was holding a situational assessment with security officials “about the developments in northern Israel.”

At the request of Minister Benny Gantz, Israel’s War Cabinet will meet on Tuesday night to discuss the escalation in the north.

Over 60,000 residents from more than 40 northern communities located within 10 km. (6.2 miles) of the Lebanon border have been internally displaced since Hezbollah joined Hamas’s war against the Jewish state following the Gaza-based terrorist group’s Oct. 7 massacre.

Hezbollah’s near-daily attacks have killed more than 20 Israelis and led to extensive damage to property.

According to IDF data, since the beginning of the war, there have been some 4,800 launches from Lebanon to northern Israel.

The IDF said on Monday evening that Air Force aircraft attacked a Hezbollah terrorist identified in the A-Nakura area of Southern Lebanon. Fighter jets also attacked a Hezbollah military structure in the Hanine area.

Earlier on Monday, an Israeli strike in the Tzur area of Southern Lebanon killed Ali Hossein Sabara, a Hezbollah military operative.

“As part of his position, Hossein Sabara was involved in improving and equipping the air-defense system in Hezbollah,” the IDF said, adding that it had attacked several Hezbollah buildings in the village of al-Katrini used by the Iranian terror proxy for its air-defense system.

Against the backdrop of the escalation in the north, the Hezbollah-affiliated newspaper Al-Akhbar reported on Tuesday morning that Beirut was warned of an imminent Israeli offensive in Lebanon against the terror group. The U.K. delivered the most significant message, according to the report, saying that “Israel plans to launch an attack in mid-June.”

The potential military offensive comes amid mounting criticism from Israel’s political echelon about the handling of the situation in the northern arena, including from Netanyahu’s coalition members.

Former Prime Minister Naftali Bennett accused the current government of lacking leadership and of mismanagement.

“We must save the north. The Galilee is going up in flames. The fire is spreading,” said Bennett, whose government was accused of bolstering Hezbollah by pushing through a gas deal.

“Beautiful and flourishing places have turned into heaps of rubble. Some residents who were evacuated are already planning their lives elsewhere. This is a grave strategic event and can in no way be normalized,” Bennett continued.

“The north’s abandonment is dangerous for our future,” he warned, calling “to chart a new course.”

“The prime minister must begin to manage, and now,” he added.

Meanwhile, opposition leader Yair Lapid, who as prime minister presided over the Lebanon gas deal with Hezbollah, said that “there has never been a more reckless government in the country’s history. They just don’t care. Not about the north, the south or the hostages.”

Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich also weighed in.

“Just a few hours ago, I warned that the situation in the north is deteriorating and the security belt must move from Israel to southern Lebanon. The new concept led by the War Cabinet has been going up in flames for hours and is exploding in our faces,” he said.

“A year ago there was a defense minister who said we would return Lebanon to the Stone Age. Mr. Prime Minister, Mr. Defense Minister, Mr. Chief of Staff—the time has come,” he added.

National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir also added to the criticism.

“What is happening now in the north is moral bankruptcy. Reckless management by the Concept Cabinet, a direct continuation of the policy of containment and proportionality, a policy that directly led to Oct. 7. Instead of bowing down to Hamas, it is time for all of Lebanon to burn.”

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