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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Hezbollah launches rocket barrage after Israeli strike kills a commander

By Euan Ward

Lebanese militant group Hezbollah fired one of its heaviest rocket barrages yet into Israel on Wednesday, targeting military bases and an arms factory, in response to an overnight strike that killed one of its senior commanders as tensions rise further at the border.

The commander, Taleb Abdallah, also known as Abu Taleb, was among the highest-ranking members of Hezbollah, a powerful Lebanese militia and political movement backed by Iran, to have been killed since the Oct. 7 Hamas-led attack on Israel set off war in the Gaza Strip.

There were no immediate reports of casualties from the Hezbollah rocket barrages, according to the Israeli military.

Israel and Hamas have been trading fire since Israel’s offensive in Gaza prompted Hezbollah to mount cross-border attacks in support of Hamas, but the intensity of Hezbollah’s attacks has increased this month. Israeli officials have threatened at the highest levels to pursue further military action, and Hezbollah has vowed to keep up its fight, raising fresh concerns that the months of low-level conflict could grow into a larger war on Israel’s northern border.

Speaking at Abdallah’s funeral in Beirut’s southern suburbs, Hashem Safieddine, the leader of Hezbollah’s executive council, pledged that the group would double down on its attacks against Israel in the wake of the killing.

“If the enemy’s message is to retreat from our position in supporting the oppressed in Gaza, then he must know that our answer is final,” Safieddine said. “We will increase the intensity, quantity and quality of our operations.”

The Israeli military said that about 215 rockets had been launched from Lebanon on Wednesday in an apparent response to the Israeli strike, setting off air raid sirens across northern Israel. Hezbollah claimed attacks on a string of military bases, including on Mount Meron, an area housing a military radar station that is roughly 5 miles south of the border. Hezbollah also claimed to have struck an arms factory belonging to Plasan, a manufacturer of armored vehicles used by the Israeli military.

The military said in a statement that a number of the rockets had been intercepted but that several had hit the ground and started fires, which firefighters were working to extinguish. It said it had responded Wednesday by striking a number of launch sites across the border. Lebanon’s state-run news agency reported heavy Israeli airstrikes and bombardment across the country’s south.

The blazes came a week after another Hezbollah rocket attack set off wildfires that prompted Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to issue a threat of “very intense action” along the Lebanese border.

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