Lebanon-based militant group Hezbollah confirmed on Monday that one of its senior commanders, Wissam al-Taweel, had been killed in southern Lebanon. Three security sources told Reuters that he and another secretary were killed when their car was hit by an Israeli strike.
“It's a very painful strike,” one source told Reuters, while another pointed to ongoing long-term concerns.Could spark another conflict on Israel's northern border: “Things will explode now.”
The Israel Defense Forces did not immediately comment on al-Taweel's death.
Since Hamas launched its unprecedented terrorist attack on southern Israel on October 7,Firefight between Hezbollah fighters and Israeli forces on the Israel-Lebanon border.
At least 175 people were killed in Lebanon, including 130 Hezbollah fighters, AFP news agency reported. At least nine soldiers and four civilians have been killed in northern Israel, according to the country's officials, and thousands have been driven from their homes in border communities because of the ongoing fighting.
Hezbollah is one of the world's most heavily armed non-state militias and is backed by Iran, as is its ally Hamas. The ongoing firefight between Hezbollah fighters and the Israeli army has fueled fears for four months that the conflict between Israel and Iranian-backed groups could escalate into a wider war.
Shima Shine, director of the Iran Program at the National Institute for Security Studies, told CBS News that Hezbollah's capabilities are “ten times greater” than Hamas's. Shine said an all-out war between Israel and Hezbollah is unlikely, but if it were to happen, he said Israel would face a much stronger fighting force in the Lebanese group than Hamas.
“It's a much better armed army than the Lebanese army, and they have a lot of experience after they fought in Syria,” Shine said.
Earlier this month, a senior Hamas commander, Saleh al-Aruri, was killed along with six other Hamas fighters in an explosion in the Lebanese capital, Beirut. Al-Aruri is one of the founders of Hamas's military wing and is wanted by the Israeli and US governments.
Responding to the attack, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah said his own group should retaliate. He said if Hezbollah did not strike back, all of Lebanon would be vulnerable to an Israeli attack.
“We confirm that this crime will never go unanswered and unpunished,” Nasrallah said on Lebanese television.