Hezbollah pummels Israel in ‘initial response’ to Hamas leader death amid fresh war fears | World | News

January 6, 2024
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Hezbollah, a Lebanese militant group, sparked fresh fears a larger regional war may erupt in the Middle East as it pummelled Israel with dozens of rockets on January 6.

The group, a proscribed terror organisation in the UK, said the barrage of missiles was a retaliatory act following the killing in Beirut of senior Hamas official Saleh al-Aruri.

In a statement, the Lebanese group also said its target was an Israeli air surveillance base in northern Israel – adding this was just part of an “initial response”.

The message read: “As part of the initial response to the crime of assassinating the great leader Sheikh Saleh al-Aruri… the Islamic resistance (Hezbollah) targeted the Meron air control base with 62 various types of missiles.”

Israel acknowledged the attack launched by Hezbollah, saying some 40 rockets had been fired at its territory from Lebanon.

Aruri, Hamas’ deputy leader in Lebanon, was killed in a Hezbollah stronghold in southern Beirut on January 2, in what marked the first strike on the Lebanese capital since the beginning of the war between Hamas and Israel.

A US defence official previously claimed to AFP it was believed it had been Israel to carry out the targeted strike. Tel Aviv, however, hasn’t claimed responsibility for the attack.

The strike targeting Aruri inside Lebanon would mark a major escalation of tensions if Israel was confirmed to have been behind it.

Since early October, Hezbollah militants have been exchanging fire with Israeli soldiers and launching rockets into northern Israel in support of Hamas.

The regular skirmishes prompted the evacuation of thousands of Israelis living in the area.

Hezbollah, which much like Hamas and the Houthis is supported economically and militarily by Iran, celebrated the harrowing October 7 terror attack on Israel, but stressed it had played no part in it.

Hezbollah’s threats of a larger regional conflict come three months into the Hamas and Israel conflict and two months after the Yemens’ Houthis started to attack cargo ships and fuel tankers in the Red Sea.

Following Hamas’ terror attack on southern Israel, which killed around 1,400 people, Tel Aviv responded with relentless airstrikes on the Gaza Strip and a ground operation inside the territory.

The military response by Israel has resulted in the killing of around 23,000 so far, according to the Hamas-controlled health ministry in Gaza, and has led to widespread calls for a ceasefire.

The United Nations’ humanitarian chief, Martin Griffiths, said on Friday that Gaza has become “uninhabitable” for its nearly 2.3 million residents, adding that “a public health disaster is unfolding” in the enclave.



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