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Israel, Hezbollah fighters trade drone strikes as border fire intensifies

BEIRUT — The militant Hezbollah group said it shot down an Israeli drone over southern Lebanon and fired rockets at an Israeli military base on Saturday, hours after Israeli drone strikes killed at least one person and wounded several others.

Hezbollah said in a statement that its fighters struck the Hermes 900 Kochav drone, saying such aircraft have been targeting militants and civilian homes. The exchange of fire along the Lebanon-Israel border has been intensifying over the past weeks with Israel’s military push on Gaza’s southern city of Rafah.

The Israeli military said a surface-to-air missile was fired toward a drone operating in Lebanese airspace, adding that it was hit and fell in Lebanese territory.

“The incident is under review,” the military said.

The Hermes 900 Kochav is a medium altitude, long-endurance drone that can carry four anti-tank guided missiles.

Hezbollah said Saturday that its fighters also attacked an Israeli army base in the border town of Kiryat Shmona with Burkan rockets “scoring direct hits, igniting a fire and destroying part of it.” Burkan rockets can carry a warhead that weighs between 300 kilograms and 500 kilograms.

The Israeli army confirmed a rocket hit a military base in Kiryat Shmona, without giving details.

Israeli media reported the rocket attack on Kiryat Shmona and released images showing significant damage to infrastructure. No casualties were reported.

Earlier Saturday, an Israeli drone strike on a motorcycle near the southern Lebanese village of Khirbet Selm wounded two people, state-run National News Agency said. The agency reported another drone strike Saturday afternoon in a village near the southern city of Nabatiyeh.

An Israeli airstrike on a house in the coastal village of Adloun killed one woman and wounded several others on Friday evening, the agency reported.

Late Saturday night, Israel’s warplanes attacked areas west of the northeastern city of Baalbek, slightly wounding two people and causing material damage, the agency said.

Such strikes deep inside Lebanon and far away from the Israeli border have been rare since the latest round of fighting began nearly eight months ago. The Saturday night strike was about 100 kilometers from the Israeli border.

Hezbollah began attacking Israeli military posts along the Lebanon-Israel border a day after the Israel-Hamas war broke out after the Hamas attack on October 7. Since then, tens of thousands of people have been displaced on both sides of the border.

Over the past seven months, more than 400 people have been killed in Lebanon most of them fighters, but they also include more than 70 civilians and noncombatants. In Israel, 15 soldiers and 10 civilians have been killed since October.

Since Hamas launched a terror attack October 7 on Israel, killing about 1,200 people and taking roughly 250 hostages, Israel has embarked on an offensive to eliminate Hamas from Gaza. In recent weeks, Israel says its forces have killed 30,000 people, the majority of them combatants. The Hamas-run health ministry in Gaza says nearly 36,300 people have died, most of them women and children, but does not estimate how many of the dead were combatants.

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