Hezbollah Fires Most Rockets Yet in War after Israel Kills a Top Commander

Israeli firefighters douse the scorched ground following fires caused by rockets launched from southern Lebanon and which landed on the outskirts of Had Nes, in the Israel-annexed Golan Heights on June 11, 2024. (Photo by Jalaa MAREY / AFP)
Israeli firefighters douse the scorched ground following fires caused by rockets launched from southern Lebanon and which landed on the outskirts of Had Nes, in the Israel-annexed Golan Heights on June 11, 2024. (Photo by Jalaa MAREY / AFP)
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Hezbollah Fires Most Rockets Yet in War after Israel Kills a Top Commander

Israeli firefighters douse the scorched ground following fires caused by rockets launched from southern Lebanon and which landed on the outskirts of Had Nes, in the Israel-annexed Golan Heights on June 11, 2024. (Photo by Jalaa MAREY / AFP)
Israeli firefighters douse the scorched ground following fires caused by rockets launched from southern Lebanon and which landed on the outskirts of Had Nes, in the Israel-annexed Golan Heights on June 11, 2024. (Photo by Jalaa MAREY / AFP)

Hezbollah fired the most rockets it has launched at Israel in a single day since cross-border hostilities broke out eight months ago, as part of its retaliation on Wednesday for an Israeli strike which killed a senior Hezbollah field commander.

The Iran-backed Hezbollah and Israel have been trading fire since the eruption of the Gaza war in October, in steadily intensifying hostilities that have fueled concern of a bigger confrontation between the heavily armed adversaries.

The Israeli strike in the south Lebanon village of Jouaiyya late on Tuesday killed three Hezbollah fighters alongside the senior field commander Taleb Abdallah, also known as Abu Taleb, Israel and three security sources in Lebanon said.

He was the most senior Hezbollah commander killed during eight months of hostilities, one of the sources said.

The Israeli military confirmed that it had killed him as well as the three other Hezbollah fighters in a strike on a command and control center.

The sources in Lebanon said he was Hezbollah's commander for the central region of the southern border strip.

Hezbollah said it carried out at least 17 operations against Israel on Wednesday, including eight in response to what it called the "assassination" by Israel in Jouaiyya.

In one, Hezbollah fighters fired guided missiles at an Israeli military factory. In another, the group said it had attacked Israeli military headquarters in Ein Zeitim and Ami'ad, and an Israeli military air surveillance station in Meron.

A security source said the group fired some 250 rockets at Israel throughout Wednesday, the most in a day in this conflict so far. More than 100 rockets were launched at once, one of the group's biggest barrages since the hostilities began in October.

Speaking at a funeral procession for Abdallah in the Hezbollah-controlled southern suburbs of Beirut, senior Hezbollah official Hashem Safieddine said the group would increase the intensity, force and quantity of its operations against Israel in retaliation for his killing.

"If the enemy is screaming and moaning about what happened to it in northern Palestine, let him prepare himself to cry and wail," Safieddine said.

SOUNDING SIRENS

Sirens sounded in northern Israel.

Israeli jets hit a number of launch sites in southern Lebanon on Wednesday after projectiles were fired towards northern Israel, the military said.

The Israeli military earlier said Hezbollah had fired a barrage of around 50 launches from southern Lebanon into the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.

In a second announcement, Israel said approximately 90 projectiles were identified crossing from Lebanon, a number of which were intercepted while others fell in several locations in northern Israel, causing fires in a number of areas.

It was not clear if the Israeli statements were referring to two separate launches.

The Israeli military said it fighter jets hit Hezbollah launch sites in two areas in southern Lebanon, while artillery shelled a third location.

It said there had been no casualties on the Israeli side but firefighters were battling fires started by the Hezbollah strikes in various areas.

Abdallah, the Hezbollah commander killed on Tuesday, was senior to Wissam Tawil, a high-level Hezbollah commander killed in an Israeli strike in January, said the sources in Lebanon, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

The Palestinian armed group Hamas called Abdallah a great leader, in a statement offering condolences for his death.

The security sources said the four Hezbollah members were likely targeted during a meeting.

Israeli strikes have killed some 300 Hezbollah fighters in Lebanon - more than it lost in 2006, when the sides last fought a major war, according to a Reuters tally which puts the number of civilians killed at around 80. Attacks from Lebanon have killed 18 Israeli soldiers and 10 civilians, Israel says.

The Israeli military says it has killed more than 320 Hezbollah members, including at least 100 targeted after field operatives gathered "precise high-quality intelligence" on them. 



Israeli Occupation of Palestinian Territory ‘Illegal’, Says UN Top Court

The panel of judges, with President Nawaf Salam (C), at the International Court of Justice in The Hague, the Netherlands, during a non-binding ruling on the legal consequences of the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem, 19 July 2024. (EPA)
The panel of judges, with President Nawaf Salam (C), at the International Court of Justice in The Hague, the Netherlands, during a non-binding ruling on the legal consequences of the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem, 19 July 2024. (EPA)
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Israeli Occupation of Palestinian Territory ‘Illegal’, Says UN Top Court

The panel of judges, with President Nawaf Salam (C), at the International Court of Justice in The Hague, the Netherlands, during a non-binding ruling on the legal consequences of the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem, 19 July 2024. (EPA)
The panel of judges, with President Nawaf Salam (C), at the International Court of Justice in The Hague, the Netherlands, during a non-binding ruling on the legal consequences of the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem, 19 July 2024. (EPA)

The UN's top court, in a sweeping opinion on Friday, said that Israel's decades-long occupation of Palestinian territory was "illegal" and needed to end as soon as possible.

The advisory opinion by The Hague-based International Court of Justice was immediately slammed as a "decision of lies" by Israel, but welcomed by the Palestinian presidency, which called it "historic".

The ICJ's statement, called an "advisory opinion", is not binding, but it comes amid mounting concern over the death toll and destruction in Israel's war against Hamas sparked by the group's brutal October 7 attacks.

It is also likely to increase diplomatic pressure on Israel, whose lawmakers on Thursday voted to oppose a Palestinian state, calling it an "existential threat".

In The Hague, ICJ presiding judge Nawaf Salam said: "The court has found... that Israel's continued presence in the Palestinian Territories is illegal."

Israel is "under the obligation to bring to an end its unlawful presence as rapidly as possible," the judge said in its finding, read at the Peace Palace, seat of the ICJ.

The ICJ added that Israel was "under an obligation to cease immediately all new settlement activities and to evacuate all settlers" from occupied land.

Israel's policies and practices, including the maintenance of a wall between the territories, "amount to annexation of large parts" of the occupied territory, the court said.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu slammed the ICJ's opinion as a "decision of lies".

"The Jewish people are not occupiers in their own land -- not in our eternal capital Jerusalem, nor in our ancestral heritage of Judea and Samaria" (the occupied West Bank), Netanyahu said in a statement.

Palestinian foreign minister Riyad Al-Maliki called it a "watershed moment".

A separate, high-profile case that South Africa has brought before the court alleges that Israel has committed genocidal acts during its Gaza offensive.

South Africa, in a statement, called upon the international community "to bring an immediate end to the occupation and the gross violations of international humanitarian and human rights law being perpetrated by Israel against the Palestinian people".

- 'Extreme danger' -

In late 2022, the UN's General Assembly asked the ICJ to give an "advisory opinion" on the "legal consequences arising from the policies and practices of Israel in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem".

The ICJ held a week-long session in February to hear submissions from countries following the request -- supported by most countries within the Assembly.

During the hearings, most speakers called on Israel to end its 57-year occupation. They warned a prolonged occupation posed an "extreme danger" to stability in the Middle East and beyond.

But the United States said Israel should not be legally obliged to withdraw without taking its "very real security needs" into account.

Israel did not take part in the oral hearings.

- 'Ongoing violation' -

The General Assembly asked the ICJ to consider two questions.

Firstly, the court should examine the legal consequences of what the UN called "the ongoing violation by Israel of the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination".

In its answer, the ICJ's judges said Israel's "unlawful policies and practices are in breach" of its "obligation to respect the rights of the Palestinian people and their right to self-determination".

In June 1967, Israel defeated some of its Arab neighbors in a six-day war, seizing the West Bank and East Jerusalem, at the time annexed by Jordan, the Golan Heights from Syria, and the Gaza Strip and Sinai Peninsula from Egypt.

Israel then began to settle the 70,000 square kilometers (27,000 square miles) of seized Arab territory.

The UN later declared the occupation of Palestinian territory illegal, and Cairo regained Sinai under its 1979 peace deal with Israel.

- 'Restrictions' -

The ICJ also was asked to look into the consequences of what it described as Israel's "adoption of related discriminatory legislation and measures".

In this finding, the ICJ said a "regime of comprehensive restrictions imposed by Israel on Palestinians consisted of systemic discrimination based on race, religion or ethnic origin."

The ICJ rules in disputes between states. Normally, its judgements are binding but it has few means to enforce them.

In this case, however, the opinion is non-binding, although most advisory opinions are in fact acted upon.

The ICJ has previously issued advisory opinions on the legality of Kosovo's 2008 declaration of independence from Serbia and apartheid South Africa's occupation of Namibia.

It also handed down an opinion in 2004 declaring that parts of the wall erected by Israel in the occupied Palestinian territory were illegal and should be torn down.

Israel has not complied with that ICJ ruling.