Hezbollah Retaliates After Israeli Airstrike Kills Four Members

The ongoing conflict between Hezbollah and Israel has escalated dramatically, marked by a lethal Israeli drone strike in southern Lebanon and subsequent heavy rocket fire from Hezbollah into northern Israel.

by Sededin Dedovic
Hezbollah Retaliates After Israeli Airstrike Kills Four Members
© Al Jazeera English / YOutube channel

The escalation between Hezbollah and Israel reached a peak on both sides of the border after an Israeli drone conducted an airstrike with several missiles on a house in the town of Jouaiyya in southern Lebanon on Tuesday, resulting in the killing of four members of the movement, including a military commander.

These are the first attacks that Israel has carried out on the town of Jouaiyya in the Tyre region since the conflict began on October 8. The town is located about 15 kilometers from the Lebanese border, reports Al Jazeera.

Hezbollah responded by shelling deep into Israel, announcing that this was "in retaliation for the assassination of four of its members." In a statement, they reported the death of "martyr, fighter, and commander Sami Talib Abdulah, born in 1969 in the village of Adshit in southern Lebanon."

Major Military Target

Israeli Army Radio reported that 150 rockets were fired from southern Lebanon into northern Israel.

They stated that 160 grenades were recorded since the morning, including 70 targeting the Jabal al-Jarmaq area and Western Galilee, marking the first time since October 2023 that sirens were heard in Tiberias. Commenting on this development, Israeli affairs expert Ali Haidar told Al Jazeera that "Hezbollah is facing the largest military strike since the start of the war, as the enemy army managed to kill the highest-ranking front commander so far, beyond the geographical scope of direct military confrontation." In his view, the assassination followed a series of attempts to subjugate the movement or force it out of the conflict in the Gaza Strip, which failed after a series of Hezbollah attacks that increased pressure.

Haidar added that this resulted in a series of steps at the highest levels of the occupying entity, leading to specific operational decisions. Thus, an operation of this scale is the result of a decision concerning the personality of "martyr Sami Abdulah and his fighters, made at the highest security and political level in the enemy entity." The expert believes that the occupation thinks these strikes will stop Hezbollah's military progress and bring it back to its initial position.

However, Hezbollah's response sent a direct message to Israeli leaders that it "will continue its military operations and pursue its upward trajectory."

Hezbollah unit chief helps a Hezbollah supporter to hold his beret© Manu Brabo / Getty Images

A New Form of Confrontation

Regarding Hezbollah's response, expert Haidar says it is limited to military targets but is escalating.

However, he excludes a confrontation leading to a full-scale war, "but we will witness a greater escalation than before." He adds that the military confrontation in southern Lebanon is taking on a new dimension, the contours of which will be seen on the ground through the tools used by both sides, the targets hit, and the geographical scope of the confrontation.

Brigadier General Hisham Jaber told Al Jazeera that Hezbollah lost an important field commander responsible for a specific area in the central sector, "but he is not necessarily the highest-ranking military commander in the movement." In Jaber's opinion, Hezbollah will certainly respond, as it always does, to the killing of its members or leaders, just as it did in previous assassinations, such as that of prominent military official Wissam al-Tawil and others.

However, the question, he says, is when and how they will respond. He explained that Hezbollah has several major targets, whether in the occupied Golan Heights or at military locations such as the Shebaa Farms and Kfar Chouba, in addition to settlements along the border, where geography allows it to oversee areas like the Hula Valley, Upper, and Western Galilee.

Sharp Response

Brigadier General Jaber indicated that the response will be inevitable and sharper than usual, but it will not be perceived by Israel as the opening of a broad front, as the resistance does not want to extend the conflict across all of Lebanon, meaning that no one desires a comprehensive conflict, as it could escalate into a regional war.

He added that Hezbollah— as Israelis themselves know and say—has so far used only 20% of its capabilities, and has not yet utilized precision missiles, land-to-sea missiles. Land-to-air missiles were fired only on Tuesday, downing a "Hormuz" drone and targeting Israeli warplanes with two such missiles on Monday, after which the planes left Lebanese airspace.

Hezbollah's Executive Council head Hashem Safieddine, during the funeral of commander Sami Talib Abdulah in the Ashura Square in the southern suburbs of Beirut, emphasized: "If the occupation's intention with this assassination is to undermine our resolve and discourage us from supporting the oppressed, then our response will be to increase the intensity, strength, quantity, and quality of operations." "If the enemy has been crying and lamenting over what is happening to them in northern Palestine, then they should prepare for more wailing and whining," added Safieddine.

He also noted that Abdulah was one of the heroes of the July 2006 war and among those who "defeated and humiliated the Israeli entity."