Hezbollah claims 62 rockets fired at Israeli post

Hezbollah claims 62 rockets fired at Israeli post

Hezbollah claims it has fired 62 rockets at a key Israeli observation post as a “preliminary response” to the assassination of Hamas’s deputy leader this week.

As tensions grow in the Middle East amid Israel’s war in Gaza, fears of the conflict spreading to more Western commercial ships also remain – with Iran warning of an “all-out battle with the enemy”.

On Saturday morning, Lebanese militant group Hezbollah said it hit an elevated hilltop that Israel relied on for “aerial observation” and “air control”.

Sirens sounded across northern Israel, with its military saying “approximately 40 launches from Lebanon toward the area of Meron in northern Israel were identified”, though there are no reports of casualties or damage.

Later on Saturday, Lebanon’s Jama’a Islamiya said it had also fired two volleys of rockets at Kiryat Shmona in northern Israel, in the third operation claimed by the hardline Sunni Muslim group since the conflict began.

After meeting the Lebanese foreign minister in Beirut, the EU’s senior diplomat Josep Borrell said he is seeing a “worrying intensification” of fire across the Israel-Lebanon border.

European Union's foreign policy chief Josep Borrell spoke in Beirut

European Union’s foreign policy chief Josep Borrell spoke in Beirut

“Diplomatic channels have to stay open, war is not the only option – it’s the worst option,” he said, adding it is important that Lebanon not be dragged into the Gaza conflict.

Hezbollah had said the death of Saleh al Aroui – a founder of Hamas’s military wing who was killed in an Israeli drone strike in a Beirut suburb on Tuesday – would not go unanswered.

Hezbollah’s head Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah said on Friday being “silent” would leave all of Lebanon vulnerable to more attacks.

Analysts believe Israel’s drone strike could be a message to Hamas’s ally, Hezbollah, that even its prime stronghold of Dahiyeh is not beyond Israel’s reach.

Danger for shipping routes

Meanwhile, as concerns grow over key shipping routes where Iran’s allies have been attacking vessels, the commander of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards vowed on Saturday to reach “the enemy”.

IDF troops operate in a location given as Gaza.

Pic: IDF

IDF troops operate in a location given as Gaza. Pic: IDF

The UK’s Chancellor Jeremy Hunt has since said attacks on Red Sea shipping routes may impact the British economy.

Asked whether the attacks by Iran-aligned Houthi militants in Yemen could mean rising prices in the UK, Mr Hunt told the BBC: “It may have an impact and we’ll watch it very, very carefully.”

British maritime security firm Ambrey said on Saturday it had received a report of a maritime security event in the Red Sea’s Bab al Mandab area.

Without elaborating, it advised crews to minimise deck movements and that only essential crew should be on the bridge.

Later on Saturday, United Kingdom Marine Trade Operations reported six small craft approaching a merchant vessel to within one nautical mile in the area of the Red Sea near Yemen.

Guards commander Hossein Salami did not name a specific enemy in his speech, but 22 nations – including the UK – have agreed to join a US-led coalition to protect commercial routes in the Red Sea.

Since the conflict made Red Sea routes more dangerous, many shipping companies have switched to the longer and more costly route around Africa’s Cape of Good Hope.

“We need to defend our national interests to wherever they extend,” Mr Salami said in a televised speech.

“It will be harmful for the enemy to be found near and at a half distant. They should stay away from this area.”

According to Iranian media, Iran’s Alborz warship entered the Red Sea earlier this month to secure shipping routes.

Talks in Turkey

As neighbouring countries continue to criticise Israel, a Turkish court decided on Friday to formally arrest 15 people and deport eight others suspected of being linked to Israeli intelligence.

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Israel outlines Gaza post-war plan

According to state broadcaster TRT Haber, they are also suspected of targeting Palestinians living in Turkey.

US secretary of state Antony Blinken arrived in Turkey on Friday for the first leg of a tour of the region and held talks on Gaza with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Saturday.

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Gaza could remain under Israeli ‘security control’

Israel continues to bombard Gaza in response to Hamas’s 7 October attack, during which Israel says 1,200 people were killed and 240 hostages were taken back to Gaza.

Israel believes 129 hostages remain, while Gaza’s Hamas-run health ministry says the onslaught has killed 22,722 Palestinians – 122 of those in the past 24 hours.

Much of Gaza has been laid to waste, with UN humanitarian chief Martin Griffith warning on Friday it has become a place of “death and despair”.

Pro-Palestinian protests have continued around the world, with demonstrators staging a sit-in at Westminster Bridge in London on Saturday, with several arrests made.

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