SAWT BEIRUT INTERNATIONAL

| 23 February 2024, Friday |

Israeli Air Strikes in South Lebanon Evokes Memories of 2006 House Bombings

The recent Israeli airstrikes in southern Lebanon have reignited memories of the intense battles experienced in the south during the 2006 war.

The escalation, the most severe in two months, coincides with Hezbollah’s use of a drone carrying explosives that detonated at an Israeli command post two kilometers from the border.

Israeli aircraft were spotted flying over Beirut and northern Lebanon.

The border region had not experienced such intense air bombardment since the war began on October 8.

Explosions rocked the border area, particularly between the towns of Yaroun, Kounine, and Bint Jbeil.

Social media activists shared videos of approximately six simultaneous airstrikes targeting densely forested areas.

Less than two hours later, airstrikes targeted a residential neighborhood in Aitaroun, destroying several homes, damaging others, and completely leveling a residential block.

Ambulance crews rushed to the scene, where they rescued four injured individuals, as Israeli fighter jets flew at medium and high altitudes over Beirut, its southern suburbs, and Mount Lebanon, all the way to the north.

Sources in south Lebanon told Asharq Al-Awsat that the airstrikes were the most intense since the war began.

They indicated that in the ten days of intensified bombardment, the Israeli forces relied on artillery and drone strikes, while extensive airstrikes were sporadic and geographically dispersed.

The sources highlighted that Sunday’s escalation was particularly intense in the central sector, with Israel primarily relying on airstrikes, reminiscent of the 2006 war, where air raids heavily targeted homes and residential areas in the south and Beirut suburbs.

It appeared that the Israeli military expanded its fire range, especially in the central sector, where Hezbollah’s military operations against Israeli positions have been relentless.

The shift from targeting open areas to residential neighborhoods was evident, with recent days witnessing repeated airstrikes on populated locations, including a residential area in Aitaroun, three days after a similar attack in Aita al-Shaab.

The National News Agency (NNA) reported that the strikes in Aitaroun destroyed a neighborhood, with many homes razed and others damaged.

– Hezbollah Expands its Targets

In response, Hezbollah expanded its range of targets, announcing drone attacks on a newly established Israeli military headquarters in the western sector.

Hezbollah’s Military Media said in a statement that its fighters “launched an aerial attack with assault drones on a newly established command headquarters of the Israeli occupation army in the western sector south of the Ya’ara barracks.”

The Israeli military, for its part, reported that “suspicious aerial targets” crossed from Lebanon, intercepting two targets.

It also mentioned that two Israeli soldiers suffered moderate injuries, while others were slightly wounded from shrapnel and smoke inhalation.

Media sources close to Hezbollah stated that the group distracted the occupation at several points before the drone attack on the barracks to disable its air defenses in the western sector before launching the drones.

Ya’ara barracks, 2 km from the Lebanese border and targeted for the first time, signals Hezbollah’s updated intelligence from inside Israel.

Hezbollah separately announced military operations against Israeli targets in the eastern and western sectors, while the Iron Dome was activated in an attempt to intercept the rockets fired towards Israel on the western border.

The group ramped up the strikes, carrying out three simultaneous attacks targeting a fortified military structure at the al-Abbad site, a gathering of Israeli soldiers at the Hounin Castle, and the Birkat Risha site.

The statement affirmed that the strikes caused direct hits and losses upon occupation forces.

Israeli artillery continued throughout Sunday, targeting the Lebanese border towns of Blida, Ayta al-Shaab, Aytaroun, Al-Khiam, Kfar Kila, Yaroun, and Rmeish.

Journalists in Rmeich reported that five shells fell in forests near a hotel housing reporters in the area.

The airstrikes broke windows of houses, shops, and a school in Rmeich, Toni Elias, a priest in Rmeich, told Reuters by phone
A drone also launched a missile near a mosque in Marouhine.

The NNA reported that debris fell from an Israeli interceptor missile near the UNIFIL watchtower in Naqoura.

– Hezbollah Rejects Israeli Demands

Hezbollah rejected international discussions and messages reaching Lebanon, demanding the group’s removal from the border area north of the Litani River and the implementation of Resolution 1701.

A senior Hezbollah official, Sheikh Ali Daamoush, asserted that the Israeli enemy is not in a position to impose its will on Lebanon.

Daamoush said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his war minister issued “empty threats,” saying the enemy is well aware that Lebanon is undeterred by intimidation.

He emphasized that “the resistance will continue to exhaust the enemy and will not stop unless the aggression on Gaza and Lebanon ceases.”

The enemy’s air raids and drones’ attacks on villages and towns will not go unanswered, he asserted, adding that the resistance’s response is strong, precise, and painful, leaving no safe military location for the enemy along the Lebanese-Palestinian border.

The official asserted that the resistance is achieving victories, forcing the enemy to pay heavy prices, and will not allow infringements on Lebanese sovereignty or any gains for Israel at the expense of the national authority.

Hezbollah parliamentary bloc member Hassan Fadlallah echoed the stance during a Sunday tour of the border area.

Fadlallah asserted that the enemy is deluded, adding that the occupation forces are witnessing significant failure in the field, whether in Gaza or south Lebanon.

The MP asserted that Israeli Forces have been hit hard, and all its leaders’ talk is an additional indication of its transformation into a false propaganda machine, exposed by daily military losses.

 

    Source:
  • Asharq Al-Awsat