Lebanon’s Hezbollah said it hit an Israeli observation post with 62 rockets on Saturday, as a “preliminary response” to the killing of Hamas’s deputy chief in Beirut earlier this week, as tensions escalated along the Israel-Lebanon border.
The Lebanese group said in a statement that it targeted a key post on a hilltop in the occupied Shebaa Farms area, which Israel relies on for “aerial observation” and “air control” over southern Lebanon and Syria.
The statement said that the rocket attack was “a message of deterrence and a warning to the enemy that any aggression against Lebanon or the resistance will be met with a decisive response”.
The statement also said that the rocket attack was “a natural and legitimate right” to avenge the assassination of Saleh al-Arouri, the deputy head of Hamas’s political bureau, who was killed in a car bomb blast in Beirut on Monday.
Hezbollah blamed Israel for the killing of al-Arouri, who was one of the founders of Hamas’s military wing and a key figure in the Palestinian resistance against Israel.
Hezbollah said that al-Arouri was “a martyr of the resistance and a symbol of the unity and solidarity of the Palestinian and Lebanese people”.
Hezbollah also said that it was “ready and prepared” to confront any further Israeli aggression, and that it would “not allow the enemy to impose new equations or rules of engagement on the ground”.
Earlier in the day, Israel’s military said that heavy fire from Lebanon targeted northern Israel, and that it responded by striking a “terrorist cell” that took part in the attacks.
The military said that it identified six launch sites in Lebanon, and that it hit them with artillery and air strikes.
The military said that it also hit “additional targets” belonging to Hezbollah in Lebanon, without providing further details.
The military said that it held the Lebanese government and the Lebanese army responsible for the attacks, and that it would “continue to act with determination” to protect its sovereignty and its citizens.
The military also said that it was “in a high state of readiness” and that it was “monitoring the situation closely”.
The rocket attack and the Israeli response marked the most serious escalation along the Israel-Lebanon border since 2006, when Hezbollah and Israel fought a 34-day war that killed more than 1,000 people, mostly Lebanese civilians.
The escalation also came amid a raging war in Gaza, where Israel has been bombing the Palestinian enclave for nearly three months, killing more than 20,000 people, mostly civilians, and displacing nearly 90 percent of its population.
The war in Gaza was sparked by a Hamas rocket attack on Oct. 7, which killed more than 1,200 Israelis, the worst massacre of Jews since the Holocaust.
Hamas said that the rocket attack was in response to Israel’s aggression and oppression of the Palestinians, especially in Jerusalem and the West Bank, where Israel has been expanding its illegal settlements, demolishing Palestinian homes, and evicting Palestinian families.
The war in Gaza has also triggered a wave of solidarity and support for the Palestinian cause across the Arab and Muslim world, as well as among many countries and people around the world, who have condemned Israel’s violations of human rights and international law, and called for an end to the occupation and the siege, and for the recognition of the Palestinian right to self-determination and statehood.