Hezbollah increases attacks on northern Israel

IDF commander of Northern Command meeting with local community representatives in northern Israel on February 18. (IDF)

Hezbollah in Lebanon launched rockets and an anti-tank missile at Israel on February 21. Sirens sounded in Metula in the eastern Galilee of northern Israel beginning in the early afternoon. Metula is one of two dozen communities evacuated by Israel in October when Hezbollah attacks first began in the wake of October 7.

In addition to Metula, sirens sounded just before sunset in several communities dotting the hills that overlook the Huleh valley. At the same time around 5pm local time, more attacks struck the border area of northern Israel in the western Galilee. The multi-pronged attack caused damage at a winery at Moshav Avivim. “This is the third time that the winery has been damaged by an anti-tank missile, as on the previous occasions the missiles hit near the building,” Israel’s Yediot reported. No one was injured in the attack.

The rocket fire follows two incidents in northern Israel involving drones in the last four days. On February 20 a drone fell into a yard in Acre on the coast in northern Israel. The Alma Center for Research and Education, which covers threats in northern Israel, described it as a Hezbollah UAV and noted “in our estimation, it is a decoy UAV. The purpose of such UAVs is to test the reactions of the early warning, air defense, and electronic warfare systems. They are launched on certain routes and at certain altitudes to test a response and subsequently produce operational insights.” The IDF said that “a report was received regarding a Hezbollah aircraft that was located in the area of the Western Galilee. The incident is under review.” No further details were released. On February 19, a drone also crashed into a field near Arbel in the eastern Galilee. The drone appeared to have explosives which detonated on impact.

The IDF carried out several rounds of strikes in Lebanon on February 21. “Among the targets struck were a number of terrorist infrastructure, an observation post in the area of Khiam, and a military post in the area of Zibqin from which launches toward the area of Shlomi in northern Israel were carried out earlier today,” the IDF said. In addition, an IDF helicopter struck an observation post in Lebanon and IDF artillery shelled an area near Aitaroun “in order to remove an immediate threat,” it said. Artillery also fired on Hezbollah threats in three other areas in southern Lebanon.

A February 21 report noted that Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar believed Hezbollah was committed to joining in on attacking Israel after October 7. This is according to documents the IDF discovered in Gaza, the Yediot report said. However, Hezbollah decided to instead launch a small number of daily attacks, not a massive assault. While Hezbollah has carried out thousands of attacks in four months, the Israel Air Force revealed on February 20 that it has struck 1,100 targets in the north.

Another report shed light on Hezbollah tunnels in Lebanon, claiming there are hundreds of miles of them and that they reach depths of 80 meters. This endorses the theory that Hezbollah is willing to continue escalatory attacks while waiting for a crisis to spark wider war. Israel has three divisions on the northern border, one of them redeployed from Gaza.

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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