Hezbollah fired rockets into Israel in retaliation for the killing of a top Hamas leader

Hezbollah fired dozens of rockets from Lebanon at northern Israel on Saturday, prompting a top Hamas leader in Lebanon's capital earlier this week to warn that the initial response was a barrage of targeted killings by Israel.

A rocket attack was launched a day after the Hezbollah leader Syed Hasan Nasrallah He said his group would retaliate for the killing of Saleh Arouri, the deputy political chief of the militants' ally Hamas, in a Hezbollah stronghold south of Beirut. He said if Hezbollah did not strike back, all of Lebanon would be vulnerable to an Israeli attack. With war brewing between Israel and Hamas, he appeared to be making his case for an answer to the Lebanese public, even at the risk of escalating the conflict between Hezbollah and Israel.

Hezbollah said it fired 62 rockets at an Israeli air observation post on Mount Meron and hit it directly. It is said that two military positions near the border were also attacked by rockets. The Israeli military said about 40 rockets were fired at Meron, targeting a base, but made no mention of the base being hit. It said it hit a Hezbollah cell that fired rockets.

Israeli airstrikes in southern Lebanon hit the outskirts of the village of Ghoudariyeh al-Siyat, about 40 kilometers (25 miles) from the border, Lebanon's state-run National News Agency said, causing casualties. Such attacks deep inside Lebanon have been rare since border fighting began nearly three months ago. The NNA also reported that Israeli forces shelled border areas including the town of Qiyam. The Israeli military had no immediate comment.

An Israeli military vehicle moves along the Gaza border as smoke rises following Israeli bombardment of the Gaza Strip, seen from southern Israel, Saturday, January 6, 2024. In Gaza, Israel moves to reduce military offensive in the north. He vowed to crush Hamas, pressing its offensive in the territory and south.

Leo Correa / AB

Separately, the armed wing of the Islamic Group in Lebanon, the country's branch of the Muslim Brotherhood and a close ally of Hamas, said it fired two rockets at the Israeli city of Kiryat Shmona on Friday night. Two members of the group were killed in the strike that killed Aruri.

The cross-border escalation comes as US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken embarks on an emergency Middle East diplomatic tour. Israel-Hamas war It erupted three months ago. The war was sparked by a deadly attack by Hamas on southern Israel, in which the militants killed around 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and took approximately 250 hostages.

In recent weeks, Israel has scaled back its military offensive in northern Gaza, vowing to crush Hamas and pressing its offensive in the south. In the south, most of Gaza's 2.3 million Palestinians are squeezed into smaller enclaves in a humanitarian disaster, battered by Israeli airstrikes.

The health ministry in Hamas-run Gaza said on Saturday that 122 Palestinians had been killed in the past 24 hours, bringing the total to 22,722 since the war began. No distinction is made between the number of militants and civilians. Two-thirds of those killed were women or children, the ministry said. The total number of injured has risen to 58,166, the ministry said.

At least 46 bodies were found overnight at al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital in the central city of Deir al-Bala, according to hospital records seen by The Associated Press. Many were apparently shot men. A fight has broken out between Israeli forces and militants in the area. Records show that the dead included five members of a family killed in an airstrike.

Recent Israeli leaflets have urged Palestinians in areas near the hospital to evacuate, citing “dangerous fighting”.

In the southern Gaza city of Khan Younis, the epicenter of Israel's ground offensive, a European hospital received the bodies of 18 people killed in an overnight airstrike on a house in the city's Ma'an neighborhood, head Saleh al-Hams said. Nursing department of the hospital. Citing witnesses, he said more than three dozen people, including some displaced persons, had taken shelter in the house.

Israel Hamas has claimed responsibility for the civilian casualties, saying the group has embedded itself within Gaza's civilian infrastructure. However, due to the rising civilian death toll, international criticism of Israel's conduct in the war has increased. The United States has urged Israel to do more to prevent harm to civilians by continuing to send weapons and ammunition, while defending its closest ally against international scrutiny.

Blinken began his latest Middle East trip in Turkey on Saturday. The Biden administration Turkey and others hope to exert influence, particularly on Iran and its proxies, to assuage fears of a regional conflagration. Those fears have increased in recent days with incidents in the Red Sea, Lebanon, Iraq and Iran.

In talks with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan, Blinken sought Turkish support for new plans for post-war Gaza, including cash or in-kind contributions to reconstruction efforts and participation in a proposed multinational force. operate in or adjacent to the territory.

From Turkey Blink He traveled to meet Turkish rival and fellow NATO ally Greece Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis at his home on the island of Crete. Mitsotakis and his government have been supportive of U.S. efforts to prevent the escalation of the Israel-Hamas war and have indicated a willingness to help if the situation worsens.

Other stops on the tour include Jordan, followed by Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia on Sunday and Monday. Blinken will visit Israel and the West Bank next week before wrapping up the trip in Egypt.

During a visit to Beirut, the EU's foreign policy chief said he aimed to launch a European-Arab effort to revive the peace process leading to a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Joseph Borrell said he will visit Saudi Arabia on Sunday.

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