The Lebanese paramilitary group was hammered by drones and artillery on Friday after its men killed an Israeli soldier
Hezbollah militants are paying “a heavy price” for their attacks on Israel, Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant told troops stationed near the Lebanese border on Saturday. The group has stepped up its rocket and missile strikes in recent days, killing an Israeli soldier on Friday.
“Hezbollah has decided to participate in the fighting, [and] we are exacting a heavy price from it,” Gallant told troops at the Biranit camp on the Lebanon border, in remarks carried by multiple Israeli media outlets.
“I assume that the challenges will be greater [than they are now], and you have to take this into account, to be ready like a [coiled] spring for any situation,” he added.
Israeli and Hezbollah forces have engaged in tit-for-tat exchanges of rocket and artillery fire since the conflict with Hamas broke out two weeks ago. While the Lebanese paramilitary group has sent drones and a number of infiltrators across the border, no large-scale incursion has taken place, and Israel has thus far avoided opening a second front in the north.
The IDF struck a Hezbollah post—operated by a terrorist cell— a short while ago.
In addition, a target—headed toward Israeli airspace from Lebanon—was intercepted before crossing over. pic.twitter.com/lKajXiQ7wg
— Israel Defense Forces (@IDF) October 20, 2023
However, Hezbollah has increased the frequency and severity of its attacks over the past week. On Friday alone, it launched between 20 and 30 rockets at military facilities in the Mount Dov area and two rockets at the town of Metula, according to the IDF. Hezbollah fighters also targeted multiple IDF observation posts with anti-tank guided missiles and small arms fire.
An Israeli-American soldier was killed and three other Israeli troops wounded in a missile strike near the border, while Hezbollah gunmen seriously wounded an Israeli soldier in a separate assault, the IDF said.
The IDF responded to these attacks with drone strikes and artillery fire, while the gunman who wounded the soldier was shot dead by Israeli troops later on Friday night.
At least six Israeli soldiers, 13 Hezbollah fighters, and five Palestinian militants have been killed along the border since the conflict broke out, according to a tally by the Times of Israel. One Israeli civilian was killed in a Hezbollah attack, while several Lebanese civilians and a Reuters journalist were killed by Israeli shelling last Saturday.
Gallant told senior Israeli officials this week that Hezbollah is “ten times stronger than Hamas,” Israel’s Kan public broadcaster reported. With the IDF looking to keep the war contained to Gaza, Gallant and other officials have issued a mixture of threats and promises to the Lebanese group in a bid to keep its fighters out of the conflict.
“We have no interest in a war in the north. We don’t want to escalate the situation,” Gallant told reporters last week, adding that if Hezbollah “restrains itself, we will respect that and keep the situation as it is.” The same day, Israeli National Security Adviser Tzachi Hanegbi warned in a televised statement that war with Hezbollah would “de facto, bring about the destruction of Lebanon.”