Hezbollah launches drone strike on base in northern Israel but military says there's no damage

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Mourners carry the coffin of senior Hezbollah commander Wissam Tawil during his funeral procession in the village of Khirbet Selm, south Lebanon, Tuesday, Jan. 9, 2024. The elite Hezbollah commander who was killed in an Israeli airstrike Monday in southern Lebanon fought for the group for decades and took part in some of its biggest battles. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)

GHANDOURIYEH – Hezbollah said it launched a drone strike at the Israeli army's northern headquarters Tuesday in retaliation for recent strikes in Lebanon that killed top Hamas and Hezbollah officials.

Israel's military acknowledged that one of its army bases in northern Israel was targeted but said there were no injuries or damage. It did not specify where the base was located.

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Also Tuesday, an Israeli drone strike in Lebanon killed three Hezbollah members, officials said.

The increasing cross-border attacks have led to fears of a second conflict against the backdrop of the ongoing Israel-Hamas war sparked by the deadly Oct. 7 assault on southern Israel by the Palestinian militant group Hamas. Hezbollah says that by keeping Israel’s northern front active, it is helping to reduce pressure on Hamas in Gaza. Hezbollah has lost some 150 fighters in the near-daily exchanges of fire.

Hezbollah said it targeted the Israeli army’s northern command headquarters in Safed with several drones, calling it retaliation for an Israeli strike in Beirut last week that killed top Hamas official Saleh Arouri, and for a drone strike on Monday that killed Hezbollah commander Wissam al-Tawil.

Tawil was the most senior member of the Iran-backed group to be killed in recent months.

The city of Safed is somewhat removed from where most of the daily Israel-Hezbollah skirmishes have been taking place, located about 12 kilometers (7 miles) from the border.

The Israeli military said its air defense system was activated to try to intercept “hostile aircraft” and that a projectile struck the base, without specifying where it hit.

Hezbollah later said it also attacked at least six Israeli posts along the border.

In the southern Lebanese village of Khirbet Selm, thousands of people took part in the funeral of Hezbollah commander al-Tawil. His coffin, draped in Hezbollah’s yellow flag, was carried through the streets to the cemetery.

Israeli officials have been demanding for weeks that Hezbollah withdraw its fighters from the border area to allow tens of thousands of Israelis displaced by the fighting to return to their homes. During a visit to Israel last month, U.S. national security adviser Jake Sullivan said a “negotiated outcome” would be the best way to reassure residents of northern Israel.

But Sheik Nabil Qaouk, a member of Hezbollah’s Central Council, said in a speech during the funeral that al-Tawil’s killing will not stop attacks along the border.

Shortly before the funeral, an Israeli drone strike on Khirbet Selm killed a Hezbollah member, according to a Hezbollah official who spoke on condition of anonymity in accordance with the group’s regulations. The Israeli military claimed that the man killed, Ali Hussein Barji, was in charge of Hezbollah’s drones in the south. Hezbollah in a statement denied it.

Earlier on Tuesday, an Israeli drone strike on the southern village of Ghandouriyeh hit a car, killing three Hezbollah members, according to two security officials and a Hezbollah official. The security officials spoke on condition of anonymity in line with briefing regulations.

Hezbollah announced the names of the members killed in the strike on Ghandouriyeh, about 10 kilometers (6 miles) from the border with Israel, but no further information about them.

The state-run National News Agency reported that when an ambulance tried to reach the car hit in Ghandouriyeh, a drone fired a missile in front of it, wounding a paramedic.


Associated Press writers Tia Goldenberg in Tel Aviv, Israel, and Bassem Mroue in Beirut contributed to this report.

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