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israel-hamas war: Israel hits 40 sites in Lebanon, says it has killed ‘half’ of Hezbollah brass

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JERUSALEM: Israeli forces are carrying out “offensive action” across southern Lebanon, Defence Minister Yoav Gallant said Wednesday without specifying whether ground troops had crossed the border.
“Many forces are deployed on the border and IDF (army) forces are carrying out offensive action currently throughout southern Lebanon,” Gallant said in a statement, also claiming that “half of Hezbollah’s commanders in southern Lebanon have been eliminated” in months of violence.

“The other half are in hiding and abandoning the field to IDF operations,” he added without giving a specific number.

In a separate statement, the army said it had struck 40 Hezbollah targets in southern Lebanon.

“A short while ago, IDF (army) fighter jets and artillery struck approximately 40 Hezbollah terror targets” around Aita al-Shaab in southern Lebanon, including storage facilities and weaponry, the statement added.

The army said Hezbollah “has established dozens of terror means and infrastructures in the area” to attack Israel.Lebanon’s state-run National News Agency said Israel had carried out more than 13 strikes near Aita al-Shaab and surrounding villages.”Israeli warplanes carried out … more than 13 air strikes targeting the outskirts of the towns of Aita al-Shaab, Ramya, Jabal Balat and Khallet Warda,” it said.

Rockets fired at Israel village
The strikes came hours after Hezbollah said it fired a fresh barrage of rockets across the border on Wednesday after a strike blamed on Israel killed two civilians.

Hezbollah fighters fired “dozens of Katyusha rockets” at a border village in northern Israel “as part of the response to the Israeli enemy’s attacks on… civilian homes,” the group said in a statement.

The group had already fired rockets at northern Israel late on Tuesday “in response” to the civilian deaths.

On Tuesday, rescue teams said an Israeli strike on a house in the southern village of Hanin killed a woman in her fifties and a girl from the same family.

Cross-border exchanges of fire have flared between the Israeli army and Iran-backed Hezbollah since Hamas’ October 7 attack on Israel triggered war in Gaza.

Since October 7, at least 380 people have been killed in Lebanon, mostly Hezbollah fighters but also 72 civilians, according to an AFP tally. Israel says 11 soldiers and eight civilians have been killed on its side of the border.

‘Poised to take Rafah’
Israel’s military has conducted all necessary preparations to take Rafah, which it deems the last Hamas bastion in the Gaza Strip, and can launch an operation the moment it gets government approval, a senior defence official told Reuters on Wednesday.

Some Palestinian civilians were fleeing their homes in northern Gaza on Wednesday just weeks after returning because of an Israeli bombardment which they said was as intense as those at the start of the war. Much of the shelling was focused for a second day on Beit Lahiya on the northern edge of Gaza.

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