Interceptions of rockets launched from Lebanon to Israel over the border

Tel Aviv: Hezbollah has escalated tensions with Israel by launching a large barrage of rockets following the killing of a top commander in southern Lebanon, Al Jazeera reported.

The Lebanese armed group, known for its close ties to Iran, confirmed the death of Muhammad Nimah Nasser, also referred to as "Hajj Abu Naameh," in an Israeli airstrike. Hezbollah retaliated swiftly with the firing of approximately 100 katyusha rockets aimed at Israeli military positions, marking a dramatic escalation in the ongoing conflict between the two adversaries.

The announcement of Nasser's death was made via Hezbollah's official channel on Telegram, although specific details about the location of the attack were not disclosed initially. Sources close to the group later confirmed to media outlets that Nasser had been killed in the Hosh area of Tyre, a city in southern Lebanon known for its historical significance and proximity to the Israeli border, according to AL Jazeera.

Nasser held a senior rank within Hezbollah, comparable to that of Taleb Abdallah, another prominent commander who was killed in a previous Israeli attack in June. The loss of such high-ranking officials underscores the intensity and strategic significance of the conflict, which has been ongoing for nearly nine months and has seen periodic flare-ups leading to concerns about broader regional instability.

Israeli military officials acknowledged targeting Nasser, describing him as a key figure responsible for Hezbollah's operations involving anti-tank and rocket systems in southwestern Lebanon. The Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) have maintained a stance of pre-emptive strikes against Hezbollah positions, citing security concerns and the need to protect Israeli territory from potential attacks.

In response to the escalating violence, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has emphasised the need for heightened security measures in northern Israel, where communities have faced increased threats from Hezbollah's rocket fire.

Netanyahu's government has faced pressure from within Israel, with calls from some far-right ministers for a full-scale invasion of Hezbollah-controlled territory in Lebanon--a move that could escalate the conflict further and potentially lead to broader regional implications.

Hezbollah's leader, Hassan Nasrallah, known for his fiery rhetoric and staunch defence of the group's military actions, has warned of readiness for an all-out war with Israel, characterized by unrestricted warfare and a willingness to engage without restraint. Nasrallah's statements have been consistent with Hezbollah's longstanding position of preparedness against what it perceives as Israeli aggression and threats to Lebanon's sovereignty.

The recent exchanges of hostilities between Hezbollah and Israel have prompted international concern, with diplomatic efforts underway to prevent a further deterioration of the situation.

French President Emmanuel Macron has been vocal in his calls for de-escalation, urging Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu to avoid actions that could ignite a broader conflict detrimental to both Lebanese and Israeli interests.

Macron "reiterated his serious concern over a deepening of tensions between Hezbollah and Israel ... and underscored the absolute need to prevent a conflagration that would harm the interests of Lebanon as well as Israel," the French presidency said in a statement.

Meanwhile, United States Envoy Amos Hochstein, who has been actively engaged in diplomatic efforts in Lebanon, is coordinating with French counterparts to seek avenues for mediation and ceasefire negotiations. The United States, along with European and Arab states, has a vested interest in stabilizing the situation and preventing a wider regional conflagration that could have far-reaching consequences beyond Lebanon and Israel.

Amidst the diplomatic manoeuvring and military engagements, the civilian toll continues to mount on both sides.

Lebanese authorities report that over 543 people, including 88 civilians, have been killed by Israeli attacks since the conflict intensified. In Israel, at least 21 people, including 10 civilians, have lost their lives due to Hezbollah's rocket fire and other attacks targeting civilian areas, Al Jazeera reported.

(With Inputs From Agencies)