Israel Kills Senior Hezbollah Commander, Deputy in Strike

Latest Developments

An Israeli airstrike killed two senior Hezbollah operatives overnight in retaliation for the Iranian-backed terrorist group’s lethal shelling of IDF Northern Command’s headquarters in Safed. Israel published the identities of the targets of its airstrike, which hit the southern Lebanese city of Nabatieh: Ali Muhammad al-Debes, a regional commander in Hezbollah’s elite Radwan Force, and his deputy Ibrahim Issa. The attack in Safed killed a female Israeli soldier and wounded several other soldiers.

Hezbollah threatened further escalation after the Nabatieh strike, in which several civilians were reportedly killed. Hassan Fadlallah, a senior Hezbollah official, vowed that Israel “will pay the price for these crimes” and that Hezbollah had a “legitimate right to defend its people.” However, the terrorist group appears to be restricting itself to cross-border attacks of a limited range. Several rockets landed in the border town of Kiryat Shmona without causing casualties.

Israel reiterated its call for a diplomatic resolution whereby Hezbollah would withdraw from the Lebanese side of the border, enabling residents of evacuated northern Israeli communities to return. But Defense Minister Yoav Gallant made clear that military force remained an option. “Hezbollah escalated by half a click — we escalated with a full step,” he said while observing a war-readiness drill in northern Israel. He added, “We could attack not just 20 km inside [Lebanon], but 50 km, and in Beirut, and anywhere else.”

Expert Analysis

“Time and again, Israel has proven its tactical superiority over Hezbollah, which since October 7 has lost close to 200 of its best fighters to IDF counterstrikes while inflicting 11 IDF fatalities. Now, we are witnessing Israel supporting the U.S. and French strategy of diplomatic de-escalation even as Hezbollah rejects it. Let no one be in doubt as to who is at fault if this powder keg goes off.” — Mark Dubowitz, FDD CEO

“Over the past week, Israel has demonstrated a willingness to assassinate Hezbollah commanders. Some of these attempts have succeeded, others haven’t. But the attempts themselves demonstrate a growing Israeli exasperation with continued attacks on the north. They also reflect Israel’s readiness to use the ongoing conflict to redefine the rules of engagement between the IDF and Hezbollah in a manner that is more favorable to the Jewish state.” — David Daoud, FDD Senior Fellow

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