Hezbollah showers Israeli sites after top commander killed

Hezbollah has announced a top commander has been killed in an Israeli attack in southern Lebanon, at least the third high-ranking official in the group to have been killed in almost nine months of cross-border fighting that has sparked fears of wider regional escalation. In response, the group fired dozens of rockets at Israel's military positions.

The Lebanese armed group on Wednesday said that Muhammad Nimah Nasser, also known as “Hajj Abu Naameh”, had been killed. The Iran-aligned group later added it had launched 100 katyusha rockets targeting Israeli military positions.

The announcement of Nasser’s death on the group’s Telegram did not provide the location, but a source previously told Al Jazeera that a commander had been killed in the Hosh area in Tyre in southern Lebanon.

Nasser had the same rank as Taleb Abdallah, another top commander who was killed by an Israeli attack in June. At the time, Abdallah was the highest-ranking Hezbollah military official killed since the group began fighting Israel on October 8 in response to bombardment of Gaza. Following Abdallah’s killing, Hezbollah launched one of its largest rocket barrages on northern Israel.

The Israeli military confirmed it targeted Nasser, and noted he was a “counterpart” of Abdallah and in charge of Hezbollah’s “antitank and rocket fire from southwest Lebanon”. In January, an Israeli strike also killed Wissam al-Tawil, another top commander from the group.

On Thursday, Hezbollah announced it launched more than 200 rockets and drones targeting Israeli military positions.

The attack on Thursday was one of the largest so far along the Lebanon-Israel border as tensions skyrocket with the group sending exploding drones at several military bases in northern Israel and the occupied Syrian Golan Heights.

The latest attacks come amid an uptick in fighting and charged rhetoric between Hezbollah and Israeli officials that has sent US, European, and Arab mediators scrambling to prevent a wider regional escalation.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in late June that Israeli forces must shift their focus to northern Israel, while far-right Israeli ministers called for a full-scale invasion of territory controlled by Hezbollah in Lebanon.

Defense Minister Yoav Gallant has said Israel is seeking to prevent a wider war, but warned that its military has the capacity to take “Lebanon back to the Stone Age”.

Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah said the group was ready for war with “no restraint and no rules and no ceilings” in the event of a major Israeli attack.

For its part, Iran has warned that “all Resistance Fronts” would confront Israel if it attacks Lebanon, referring to the armed groups it supports throughout the region.

At least 543 people, including 88 civilians, have been killed by Israeli attacks in Lebanon, while at least 21 Israelis, including 10 civilians, have been killed in attacks by Hezbollah and other armed groups in Lebanon since the beginning of the war.

At least 37,953 people have been killed in Israel’s war on Gaza since October, according to Palestinian health authorities.

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