Lebanon’s Hezbollah fires ‘dozens of rockets’ at Israeli positions

Attacks by Iran-aligned group come as Israel anticipates an Iranian response to an air strike on its Syria consulate.

Hezbollah said it has fired “dozens of rockets” at Israeli artillery positions in response to the Israeli military’s strikes in southern Lebanon, in one of its largest assaults since the start of the war on Gaza.

The Iran-aligned armed Lebanese group confirmed in a statement late on Friday that it launched dozens of Katyusha rockets at “enemy artillery positions” in northern Israel and the occupied Golan Heights.

The rockets triggered sirens in multiple communities across Upper Galilee in northern Israel, with air defence missiles engaging the incoming projectiles.

The Israeli military said “40 launches were identified from Lebanese territory, some of which were intercepted. The rest fell in open areas.”

“This is a large number of rockets and drones, one of the biggest barrages of the war so far in Gaza,” said Al Jazeera’s Rory Challands, reporting from occupied East Jerusalem.

“No injuries were reported,” the Israeli military said, adding that it had earlier intercepted two explosive-laden drones operated by Hezbollah that had crossed from Lebanon into Israeli territory late on Friday.

Hezbollah, an ally of the Palestinian group Hamas, and Israeli forces have been exchanging near-daily fire across the border since the war in Gaza started on October 7. The group has said it will stop its attacks on Israel after a ceasefire is reached in Gaza.

While the tit-for-tat attacks have largely remained confined to border regions their frequency and intensity have raised fears of a wider conflict.

Reporting from Tyre in southern Lebanon, Al Jazeera’s Ali Hashem said the current regional context makes the Hezbollah launches significant, but the location was important as well.

“Hitting the Golan hasn’t been something normal in this confrontation,” he said.

Hashem said this shows “how the rules of engagement in this confrontation are changing drastically” with attacks increasingly hurting civilians as well as military targets, with more than 60 Lebanese civilians killed compared with several on the Israeli side.

As tensions mount, Israel on Saturday launched at least five air strikes in southeastern Lebanon, an area which is one of Hezbollah’s strongholds, Hashem reported.

Israeli fighter jets targeted a major “military compound” operated by Hezbollah, the air force said on Saturday.

The latest Hezbollah attack comes as the world anticipates an Iranian attack on Israel in retaliation for an air strike on the Iranian consulate in Syria that killed seven members of its armed forces including two generals in charge of Lebanon and Syria operations.

The Israeli military has said it is prepared for an Iranian attack, with Foreign Minister Israel Katz warning Iran that if it uses its own territory to launch attacks, Israel will attack inside Iran as well.

Israeli Minister of Defense Yoav Gallant said Israel is prepared to defend itself on the ground and in the air, in close cooperation with “our partners”, meaning the United States.

“The situation is escalating minute by minute and everyone is anticipating what is going to be the next step,” Hashem said.

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