Since the start of the Gaza war in the wake of the Oct.7 Hamas terror raids, Israel’s northern border has suffered almost daily rocket attacks, mainly from Hezbollah out of south Lebanon. However, the conflict there has been by and large “contained” thus far, despite limited daily exchanges of fire.
There has yet to be the kind of all-out Hezbollah assault that many feared. But Thursday did see one of the biggest rocket volleys yet, with Hezbollah’s Al-Manar TV station confirming that 25 rockets and mortars were fired in a simultaneous attack on northern Israel. This reportedly included attacks on some 19 separate Israeli positions.
Israel’s military subsequently confirmed there were a “number of launches” out of Lebanon, and said in response it struck “a series of Hezbollah terrorist targets in Lebanon.” According to to AFP, Israeli forces have hit Lebanon’s Hezbollah with a “broad assault”.
Al Jazeera correspondent Ali Hashem has noted that “the border fighting appeared to be heating up before the head of Hezbollah, Hassan Nasrallah, is meant to give his first address since the fighting began.” Nasrallah’s highly anticipated speech is set for Friday.
Hamas units also appear to be operating out of Lebanon, with its Al-Qassam brigades at the same time announcing it has shelled Israel’s Kiryat Shmona with a dozen rockets.
Some of the Hezbollah and Hamas missiles have made direct impacts on Israeli communities…
Missile from Lebanon makes impact in Kiryat Shmona. pic.twitter.com/AFNjeUtidD
— Ali Hashem علي هاشم (@alihashem_tv) November 2, 2023
As for Nasrallah’s upcoming major speech, he’s certainly expected to voice support for Gaza’s struggle – but the true wild card remains whether or not he’ll declare a major escalation in Hezbollah’s attacks. The West sees Hezbollah as a puppet controlled from Tehran.
Regional war correspondent Elijah Magnier has said dozens of drones were also used in Hezbollah’s Thursday attack:
— Elijah J. Magnier 🇪🇺 (@ejmalrai) November 2, 2023
Meanwhile, also on Thursday The Wall Street Journal published an alarming new report highlighting potential Russia-Hezbollah military cooperation. The two sides have already for years been in some degree of coordination in Syria while assisting the Assad government against foreign-backed jihadists.
But now Hezbollah could receive an advanced Russian anti-air system:
The U.S. has intelligence that the Wagner Group, the Russian paramilitary group, may provide an air defense system to Hezbollah, the Lebanese militia, U.S. officials say.
The system in question is the SA-22, which uses antiaircraft missiles and air defense guns, to intercept aircraft.
One U.S. official said that Washington hasn’t confirmed that the system has been sent. But it is monitoring discussions involving Wagner and Hezbollah and that the potential delivery is a major concern.
US officials have been floating evidence-free claims of late that Russia has been behind the scenes stoking the Gaza conflict, and is sowing regional instability. This new WSJ report has been issued within that context. Over the last months, Wagner Group has come under the direct control of Russian state authorities, following the death of the mercenary firm’s founder and leader Yevgeny Prigozhin.