Northern border heats up with fresh rocket fire, Hezbollah attacks on IDF posts

In the midst of heightened tensions, Hezbollah launched rockets from Lebanon into northern Israel, prompting Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) to respond with artillery shelling and airstrikes. The exchange marked the latest escalation in ongoing border skirmishes. Hezbollah claimed responsibility for the deaths of two members targeted in Israeli strikes. The IDF reported the launch of nine rockets from Lebanon, with four intercepted by the Iron Dome defense system. As the situation intensifies, Israel evacuated 28 communities from its northern border. The conflict adds complexity to the region, with ongoing hostilities in Gaza and increasing warnings from Iran, emphasizing the potential for a wider conflict.

Northern border heats up with fresh rocket fire, Hezbollah attacks on IDF posts
A fragment of a rocket fired from Lebanon at the northern Israeli town of Kiryat Shmona close to the border with Lebanon on October 18, 2023. (Jalaa Marey / AFP)A fragment of a rocket fired from Lebanon at the northern Israeli town of Kiryat Shmona close to the border with Lebanon on October 18, 2023. (Jalaa Marey / AFP)
Lebanon on October 18, 2023. (Jalaa Marey / AFP)
Rockets were fired from Lebanon at northern Israel towns, and the Hezbollah terror group attacked several Israeli army posts along the border, as skirmishes on the frontier continued, amid the ongoing war in the Gaza Strip.

According to the Israel Defense Forces, nine rockets were launched from Lebanon, setting off sirens in Kiryat Shmona and several nearby communities. The IDF said four were intercepted by the Iron Dome air defense system.

At least one rocket landed in the northern city, causing no injuries or damage.

Shortly before the rocket sirens, the IDF said one of its tanks shelled two anti-tank guided missile (ATGM) launch positions in southern Lebanon, where the military identified an attempt to carry out an attack.

A third ATGM launch site was struck following a missile attack on the northern town of Metula.

At the same time, the IDF said projectiles were also launched from Lebanon at the contested Mount Dov area, where there are a number of military posts and no towns.

Smoke rises from an Israeli army position that was hit by the Hezbollah terror group as it is seen from Tair Harfa village, south Lebanon, October. 18, 2023. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)

The IDF later said it had carried out a drone strike against a terror cell launching mortars from Lebanon at the Malkia area on the border.

Hezbollah later announced the deaths of two members, saying they were killed while “performing jihad.” The terror group did not elaborate on where Ali Muhammad Marmar and Taha Abbas Abbas were killed, but it was believed that they were targeted in one of the Israeli strikes on Wednesday.

Throughout Wednesday, Hezbollah said it had launched several missiles and attacked a number of Israeli army posts along the border with gunfire.

A video published by the terror group showed it shooting at Israeli cameras and surveillance equipment on the border.

The IDF said the missiles targeted areas near Metula, Malkia, Kibbutz Manara, and Rosh HaNikra. The gunfire targeted a number of military posts in the area, according to the IDF.

The military did not immediately report any casualties among IDF troops.

Rambam Hospital in Haifa said it was admitting one person who was listed in moderate condition as a result of one of the missile attacks, without elaborating on how or where he was hurt.

The IDF said it had responded with artillery shelling of the sources of the missile fire and gunfire in southern Lebanon and had carried out airstrikes against Hezbollah sites.

The military said that among several targets it had hit overnight in airstrikes was a military observation post from which a missile was fired toward Rosh Hanikra earlier.

Smoke rises following an Israeli artillery strike in al-Bustan, a Lebanese border village with Israel, south Lebanon, October 18, 2023. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)

In the pre-dawn hours of Wednesday, Hezbollah fired a missile at Israeli forces near Shtula, a moshav in northern Israel, lightly wounding four soldiers.

Shtula, Metula, Malkia, Manara, and Rosh HaNikra are among 28 communities being evacuated from the north under the increasing threat of war.

The incidents were the latest in a series of increasingly frequent skirmishes on the northern border with the Iran-backed Hezbollah as well as Hamas operatives there. The tit-for-tat attacks have remained limited in scope, amid threats from Israel that Lebanon could suffer if Hezbollah steps up its attacks.

In total, at least five Israeli soldiers, 13 Hezbollah terrorists and five Palestinian terrorists have been killed in the exchanges. One Israeli civilian was killed in a Hezbollah attack Sunday, and two Lebanese civilians and a journalist were also reported killed by Israeli shelling.

The attacks from Lebanon have come as Israel is waging war in Gaza against Hamas after the terror group’s murderous assault on the country on October 7, in which some 1,400 people were massacred and some 200-250 were kidnapped and taken to the Strip.

IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi said Tuesday that if Hezbollah “makes a mistake,” it will face “destruction.”

IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi is seen at the Northern Command in Safed, October 17, 2023. (Israel Defense Forces)

There have been escalating warnings from Iran regarding the possibility of the war being widened, as Israel prepares a ground offensive with the stated goal of toppling Hamas’s rule over the Palestinian enclave.

Israel and the US have both warned Iran and Hezbollah to remain on the sidelines, with Washington dispatching two aircraft carrier groups to the region, signaling it could step in to defend Israel.

As the area has heated up, the IDF and Defense Ministry were working to evacuate civilians who live in towns up to two kilometers (1.25 miles) from the Lebanese border, due to the repeated rocket and missile attacks by Hezbollah and allied Palestinian factions in recent days.

The ministry’s National Emergency Management Authority (NEMA) said the estimated 27,000 residents would be taken to state-funded guesthouses.