Hezbollah Says Commander Was Killed in an Israeli Strike in Southern Lebanon

Hezbollah said on Tuesday that Israeli forces killed one of its commanders in a strike in southern Lebanon, stoking concerns about escalating the conflict on another Israeli front.

The commander, Taleb Abdallah, also known as Abu Taleb, was among the highest-ranking Hezbollah fighters in Lebanon to have been killed by Israel since the Oct. 7 Hamas-led attack on Israel set off war in the Gaza Strip and inflamed tensions along Israel’s northern border.

Mr. Abdallah’s role in Hezbollah was not immediately clear. But the group has not referred to a dead fighter as a “commander” since January, when Wissam Hassan al-Tawil, a commander in the group’s Radwan unit, was killed in a strike. In an apparent indication of Mr. Abdallah’s seniority, Hezbollah on Tuesday released a photo of him alongside Mr. al-Tawil.

The Israeli military did not immediately comment on the strike.

Hezbollah, a powerful Lebanese militia and political movement backed by Iran, and Israel have bombarded each other across the border for much of the past eight months, with more than 150,000 people on both sides of the boundary forced to flee their homes. But the intensity of the attacks has increased this month amid threats by Israeli officials at the highest levels to pursue further military action.

Israel has been targeting Hezbollah commanders with the aim of pushing the group north of the Litani River in Lebanon, hoping to prevent cross-border attacks and to eventually allow Israeli civilians displaced by the fighting to return to their homes. Some experts have expressed skepticism about whether the targeted killings can accomplish this aim.

Last week, during a visit to northern Israel after a barrage of Hezbollah rockets set off wildfires that blazed for days, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued a threat of “very intense action” to “restore security to the north.”

In a sign of the heightening conflict, Israel this week struck deeper into northeast Lebanon than it had since the war in Gaza began. On Tuesday, the Israeli military said that Hezbollah had fired about 50 rockets into Israel from southern Lebanon.

In recent weeks, Hezbollah for the first time has begun targeting Israel’s vaunted Iron Dome missile-defense system.

Answering calls by Hamas to open a second front a day after its deadly assault on Israel, Hezbollah launched attacks into Israel on Oct. 8. Hezbollah’s leader, Hassan Nasrallah, has said that his group is trying to pin Israel’s troops along the border and limit its capacity to attack Hamas in Gaza.

Hezbollah says that more than 300 fighters have been killed in the most recent round of fighting with Israel. The United Nations says that about 80 Lebanese civilians have died. In Israel, the authorities say that 19 security personnel and at least eight civilians have been killed.

Euan Ward and Matthew Mpoke Bigg contributed reporting.

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