The Lebanese Shi’ite terror group Hezbollah fired some 40 rockets into Israel on Saturday in an “initial response” to last week’s assassination of Hamas terror chief Saleh al-Arouri in Beirut.
There were no reports of injuries.
The salvo triggered rocket and drone alert sirens in 90 communities across northern Israel, although the military said that only the Mount Meron area was targeted.
Soon afterwards, sirens again blared in 40 northern communities as Hezbollah launched additional barrage of rockets at Metula and Margaliot, both located along the border.
In response, the Israel Defense Forces conducted an “extensive” series of strikes against Hezbollah infrastructure, including terror compounds, command centers and a rocket launch site, as well as a terror cell.
Earlier Saturday, terrorists in Lebanon launched projectiles towards Yiftah and Avivim, causing no injuries. Also, a surface-to-air missile was fired at an Israeli Air Force drone in Lebanese territory; the UAV was not damaged and continued its mission.
The IDF retaliated by striking terror targets in Ayta ash-Shab, Yaroun and Ramyah, including rocket launch positions and other infrastructure used by the terror group.
In a follow-up wave, Israeli fighter jets struck two “significant” terror compounds belonging to Hezbollah.
On Friday, Hezbollah terror master Hassan Nasrallah said there would “undoubtedly” be a response to the Jan. 2 targeted killing of Hamas deputy political chief Saleh al-Arouri in the Lebanese capital, allegedly by Israel.
The Hezbollah terror chief said his terror organization could not remain silent in response to the “major and dangerous violation,” per the Lebanon-based website Naharnet.
“The battlefield will respond and this response will undoubtedly come,” Nasrallah said. “We cannot remain silent over such a dangerous violation, because this would mean that all of Lebanon and its cities and personalities would be exposed.”
In addition to al-Arouri, at least three other Hamas operatives were also killed in the strike in Beirut’s Dahiya neighborhood: Samir Findi Abu Amer and Azzam al-Aqraa Abu Ammar, commanders of Hamas’s “military” wing in Lebanon.
He was one of the top Hamas leaders on Israel’s target list following the terrorist group’s mass murders on Oct. 7 of at least 1,200 people in the northwestern Negev, when they also kidnapped some 250 others and brought them back to the Gaza Strip. About half that number are still being held captive there.
Al-Arouri is credited with orchestrating the relationship between Hamas and Iran. He further played a key role in re-establishing the Palestinian terrorist group’s ties with Damascus, which were severed in 2012 during the Syrian civil war.
On Thursday, Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant told visiting U.S. presidential adviser Amos Hochstein it will soon be too late to find a peaceful solution for Hezbollah’s attacks from across the Lebanese border.
Gallant conveyed the message that, “There is only one possible result—a new reality in the northern arena, which will enable the secure return of our citizens. Yet we find ourselves at a junction—there is a short window of time for diplomatic understandings, which we prefer. We will not tolerate the threats posed by the Iranian proxy Hezbollah and we will ensure the security of our citizens.”
Gallant emphasized that Israel’s top priority is changing the security situation at the border to enable the return of some 80,000 internally displaced Israelis to their homes.