May 19, 2024

Armed group says it launched dozens of rockets on Israeli village of Meron, after Israeli strikes killed five people in southern Lebanon.

Lebanon’s Hezbollah has said it has fired dozens of rockets into northern Israel after Israeli strikes the day before killed at least five people in southern Lebanon, including three of the group’s members, as fears grow of a regional escalation.

Hezbollah, an ally of the Palestinian group Hamas, and Israel have been exchanging near daily fire across the border since Israel launched a brutal war on Gaza on October 7 in the wake of a deadly attack inside Israel.

Hezbollah said on Sunday it had launched “dozens of katyusha-type rockets” in the morning on the Israeli village of Meron, 8km (5 miles) from the border. Meron is home to a major air control base that the Iran-backed group has targeted several times since the start of the year.

Hezbollah said it had acted “in response to Israeli attacks against villages in the south and the homes of civilians”, particularly the targeting of the home of a fighter in Khirbet Selm the day before.

A woman and another person were also killed in the same strike, according to Lebanon’s official National News Agency.

“Following the sirens that sounded in northern Israel, approximately 35 launches from Lebanon towards Israeli territory were identified, a number of which were intercepted,” the Israeli army said on Sunday.

The statement added that the Israeli air force struck Hezbollah infrastructure during the night, including a “military structure in which Hezbollah terrorists were identified in the area of Khirbet Selm”.

At least 312 people have been killed in Lebanon since the start of cross-border violence on October 8, most of them Hezbollah fighters but also including 53 civilians, according to an AFP tally.

On the Israeli side, 10 soldiers and seven civilians have been killed, according to the latest official figures.

Tens of thousands of people have been displaced by the fighting on both sides of the border.

Strikes have largely remained confined to border regions for the moment, but several have hit Hezbollah positions further north in recent weeks, raising fears of a full-blown conflict.

The group has repeatedly said that it will only stop its attacks on Israel with a ceasefire in Gaza, where people have died from malnutrition and dehydration. More than 31,000 Palestinians have been killed in the more than five months of Israeli offensive.

But Israeli Defence Minister Yoav Gallant said recently that any truce in Gaza would not change Israel’s goal of pushing Hezbollah out of southern Lebanon, by force or diplomacy.

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