Hezbollah Losses Grow To 9 In One Day After Israel Mounts Another Major Airstrike

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by Tyler Durden
Wednesday, Jan 03, 2024 - 10:19 PM

Update(1719ET): Within hours after the Nasrallah speech, Israel has conducted another major airstrike on Lebanon, this time against a residential building which housed Hezbollah members. 

"Two security sources told the Reuters news agency that four Hezbollah members were killed in the attack on what had been described as a residential building," Al Jazeera reports. Importantly, "It brings the number of Hezbollah members killed on Wednesday to nine" - which suggests we are witnessing a significant escalation. 

A Pentagon statement has also implicated Israel in the earlier targeted drone strike which killed Hamas deputy head Saleh al-Arouri. While Israel had not officially owned up to it, a CENTCOM statement said to reporters, "The strike was an Israeli strike. Please refer all questions to IDF."

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Update(1304ET): As is typical of his speeches, Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah gave no details on the paramilitary group's next steps, or whether an escalation in the conflict is on the horizon, but he asserted that the killing al-Arouri will not go without punishment, issuing all the usual fresh threats and warnings. He did warn of a 'no limit' war.

"If the enemy thinks about waging war against Lebanon, then our fighting will be with no ceiling, with no limits, with no rules. And they know what I mean," Nasrallah said. "We are not afraid of war. We don’t fear it. We are not hesitant. If we were, we would have stopped at the front."

He called Israel's targeting south Beirut the day before, which resulted in the assassination of al-Arouri and some six others, a "dangerous" act. According to an outline of his main points, via Al Jazeera:

  • Israel has been dealt a strategic defeat in the region since the October 7 attack.
  • Assassinating al-Arouri is a “dangerous” act that will not pass without punishment.
  • The Houthis’ Red Sea attacks are “qualitative” and “effective”.
  • The US administration is fuelling the war in Gaza and preventing a ceasefire.
  • Israel is failing to declare casualties “in the thousands” on the Lebanese front.
  • Hezbollah is not afraid of an all-out war with Israel and is willing to fight with “no limits”.

Meanwhile Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has been posting English messages to X throughout the day...

Earlier in the day Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian struck a similar theme, denouncing the "cowardly terrorist operation."

"The evil terror machine of this regime in other countries is a real threat to peace and security and a serious alarm for the security of the countries in the region," he said a Wednesday social media post. State media also underscored, "The Iranian diplomat further noted that Israel’s terrorist operations prove that the occupying regime has failed to reach its objectives in the war in Gaza despite US support."

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All eyes are on Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah and what he's going to say during his 6pm speech (Beirut time, 11am eastern in US). There were reports yesterday that he canceled the speech in the wake of the Israeli drone assassination of Hamas deputy head Saleh al-Arouri in a southern Beirut neighborhood. But by day's end Tuesday, it became clear that the speech will go on, which will be his third since the start of the Israel-Gaza war.

Israel's military now says it is on "high readiness for any scenario" after the killing of Arouri along with six other Hamas operatives. As if things in the region weren't on edge enough, amid continuing tit-for-tat fighting between Hezbollah and the IDF along the southern Lebanese border, twin explosions rocked the site of memorial events for the death of IRGC General Qasem Soleimani.

Hasan Nasrallah met with now deceased Saleh al-Arouri at an undisclosed location in Lebanon on Sept. 2. Hezbollah Media Office/AFP/Getty Images

Regional analyst Amal Saad was quoted in The Washington Post as saying Israel's drone strike on Beirut yesterday sent two messages: "One is to Hezbollah: You can’t harbor Hamas operatives anymore. Lebanon is not going to be a sanctuary for Hamas and Islamic Jihad." And "The second, more obvious message, she said, is to Hamas leaders: that nowhere is safe." According to more:

Hezbollah’s challenge, she added, will be to respond in a careful and calculated manner “to ensure that Israel understands that you can’t do this again,” but without dragging the country into a full-scale war.

In August, Arouri told the Lebanese Al-Mayadeen channel that the repeated Israeli threats against his life are “part of the price we pay.” The 57-year-old said he had not expected to make it to his current age, and predicted that assassinations and other actions by the Israeli government could push the region into “a comprehensive war.”

Watch the speech live, expected to begin at 11am eastern...

Additionally, the geopolitical analysis site Moon of Alabama comments on what to expect... "Hizbullah must respond carefully to not give Netanyahoo a reason for a wider attack on Lebanon."

The analysis continues, "On the other side the response must be strong enough and soon enough to give Netanyahoo some trouble. But what kind of operation he will chose to do is yet unknown. I for one expect an unexpected but serious surprise in a direction that Israel has not foreseen."