Hezbollah escalates attacks on Israel

IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi visited northern Israel on February 27 (screenshot of IDF video)

Hezbollah escalated attacks on Israel on February 27, first in the morning with rocket fire targeting an IDF base on Mount Meron, the tallest mountain in the Galilee. The IDF base on Mount Meron is often referred to as a “sensitive” location and “air traffic control” base. The rockets were intercepted over the northern Galilee, and smoke was seen rising from several that landed on the mountain. IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Herzi HaLevi visited Shtula along Israel’s northern border with Lebanon to met with key commanders.

A projectile struck the base in the afternoon, but the IDF said there was no damage to the base’s operational capabilities. “Following the sirens that sounded in northern Israel earlier today, approximately 20 launches were identified crossing from Lebanon into northern Israel, some of which were successfully intercepted by the IDF Aerial Defense Array and the rest fell according to protocol,” the IDF said. “In addition, an anti-tank missile was identified crossing from Lebanon toward the area of Meron in northern Israel. A hit was identified in the area of the IDF Aerial Control Unit, and did not harm the site’s capabilities.”

Hezbollah’s escalation is the latest in three days of increased incidents in the north. These clashes take place amid ongoing discussions of another possible deal for a hostage-prisoner swap. In essence, while IDF operations in Gaza are decreasing in intensity, the chances of escalation in northern Israel are increasing.

Hezbollah has carried out thousands of rocket, anti-tank missile and drone attacks on Israel since October 7. Despite several days in the last four months including significant escalation, most interactions have consisted of Hezbollah carrying out several rocket and anti-tank missile attacks and Israel responding by using warplanes, artillery and tank fire to strike at Hezbollah targets. The Israel Air Force has struck more than 1,000 targets in Lebanon since October 7, according to an IAF data set released on February 20.

Hezbollah has made previous claims of targeting the Meron base. Hezbollah has demonstrated a pattern using missiles and rockets to target sensitive sites in the north, including striking at antennas and surveillance equipment along the border. It has also targeted IDF Northern Command’s base in Safed. The IDF often responds to these escalations in kind with proportion. On February 27, Hezbollah released a statement to pro-Hezbollah Al-Mayadeen media in which it asserted that its attacks were in response to February 26 Israeli strikes deep inside Lebanon. Those Israeli airstrikes were themselves a response to Hezbollah shooting down an Israeli Hermes 450 Zik drone. Israeli media has noted the uptick in clashes in the north, with Israel’s popular Ynet website running an article entitled “Israel’s blow-trading with Hezbollah reaches dangerous precipice.”

Israel’s Chief of Staff HaLevi met on February 27 with IDF Northern Command commanding officer Ori Gordin and 146th division commander Brig. Gen. Yisrael Shomer. Halevi said that Hezbollah must pay a heavy price for its actions since October 7: “It’s clear that the first thing we need to do is push back the enemy. Then, create a very strong barrier, establish strong intelligence gathering capabilities, position strong forces in the area as well as a strong civilian emergency response unit, and ensure there are bomb shelters and safe areas in homes and communities,” he said.

He also promised the approximately 80,000 Israelis evacuated in October they could safely return home if the IDF operates correctly now: “The State of Israel will know to make an effort when it comes to bringing people back here to a safe and high quality lifestyle.” His words echo those of Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant who visited the IDF Northern Command on February 25 and also vowed the IDF would continue striking Hezbollah.

Reporting from Israel, Seth J. Frantzman is an adjunct fellow at FDD and a contributor to FDD’s Long War Journal. He is the acting news editor and senior Middle East correspondent and analyst at The Jerusalem Post. 


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