Israel Wounds Hezbollah Commander in Drone Strike

Latest Developments

An Israeli drone strike in Lebanon on February 8 seriously wounded a Hezbollah commander identified as Abbas al-Debes. A second senior member, identified as Ali Karaki, escaped before Israel struck the vehicle, according to a Sky News Arabic report. The Israeli strike came in response to an anti-tank missile fired at Kiryat Shmona that injured an Israeli soldier earlier in the day. Contrary to Israeli media reports that the strike killed al-Debes, a Lebanese security source told Agence France-Presse that he was “seriously injured.”

Expert Analysis

“Whether Israel succeeded in killing Ali Karaki and Abbas Al-Debes is almost immaterial and certainly secondary to the attempt on two Hezbollah members as high-ranking as this pair. This was an unmistakable escalation by the Israelis, in the face of which they certainly could not have expected Hezbollah to remain passive. But Israel was trying to send its adversaries a clear message: Israel’s patience with the group’s ongoing attacks is running out, and Hezbollah should consider none of its leadership safe, irrespective of the consequences.” — David Daoud, Senior Fellow

“What has been happening on the Lebanon-Israel border for over four months is a tit-for-tat exchange of fire that Hezbollah initiated. So far, Hezbollah’s strategy has yet to produce the desired results of slowing down the Israeli military in Gaza, thus saving Hamas from destruction. Hezbollah should reassess this flawed strategy and cut its losses before the conflict on the Lebanon border escalates into a full-blown war.” — Joe Truzman, Senior Research Analyst at FDD’s Long War Journal

Continued Israeli Surveillance Flights

Israel indicated this week that it would maintain surveillance flights over Lebanon despite attempts by the United States and France to persuade Beirut to remove Hezbollah fighters from the southern border. Israeli Air Force chief Maj.-Gen. Tomer Bar said that operations over Lebanese skies have expanded, with plans to continue operating in the region as needed. Elaborating on Israeli Air Force activity against Hezbollah air defenses, Bar stated, “In the north, we now fly freely over the skies of Lebanon.” He also warned that in the event of an escalation in hostilities, Israel would carry out massive and simultaneous strikes on numerous targets across Lebanon.

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