Hezbollah fires rockets at Israel after fighter killed

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Hezbollah said it fired “dozens” of rockets into northern Israel Thursday in retaliation for a deadly strike in south Lebanon, a day after a fiery speech from the group’s leader.

Israel and Hezbollah, a Lebanese movement allied with Hamas, have traded near-daily cross-border fire since the Palestinian militant group’s October 7 attack on Israel which triggered war in the Gaza Strip.

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Fears of a regional war rose after Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah warned Wednesday “no place” in Israel would be spared in case of all-out war against his group, and threatened the nearby island nation of Cyprus if it opened its airports to Israel.

Hezbollah on Thursday said that “in response to the assassination that the Israeli enemy carried out in the village of Deir Kifa,” fighters targeted an Israeli barracks “with dozens of Katyusha rockets.”

Lebanon’s official National News Agency had reported one dead after an “enemy drone” struck a vehicle in south Lebanon’s Deir Kifa area.

Hezbollah announced that one of its fighters had been killed. A source close to the group, requesting anonymity, told AFP he was killed in the Deir Kifa strike.

The Israeli military said an airstrike “eliminated” a Hezbollah operative in the Deir Kifa area, saying he was “responsible for planning and carrying out terror attacks against Israel and commanding Hezbollah ground forces” in south Lebanon’s Jouaiyya area.

Elsewhere, Israeli fighter jets struck “a Hezbollah surface-to-air missile launcher that posed a threat to aircraft operating over Lebanon,” the army statement added.

The exchanges between the foes, which last went to war in 2006, have escalated in recent weeks, and the Israeli military said Tuesday that “operational plans for an offensive in Lebanon were approved and validated.”

After the Hezbollah leader’s threats against Cyprus, Lebanon’s foreign ministry said Thursday that “relations between Lebanon and Cyprus are based on a rich history of diplomatic cooperation.”

Contacts and consultations continue between the two countries “at the highest levels,” a foreign ministry statement said, without making specific reference to Nasrallah’s remarks.

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The cross-border violence has killed at least 479 people in Lebanon, most of them fighters but also including 93 civilians, according to an AFP tally.

Israeli authorities say at least 15 soldiers and 11 civilians have been killed in the country’s north.

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