Israel Says It Killed Another Hezbollah Commander in an Airstrike

The Israeli military said it killed a senior Hezbollah commander in an airstrike on Tuesday evening, further heightening tensions with the Iranian-backed militia after a day of back-and-forth attacks and the apparent Israeli killing of another Hezbollah commander on Monday.

The Israeli military identified the commander killed on Tuesday as Ali Hussein Burji, saying that he led Hezbollah’s aerial unit in southern Lebanon and was responsible for a drone strike that morning on the headquarters of Israel’s northern command, in the city of Safed. The Israeli military had previously said the strike caused no casualties or damage.

In a statement, Hezbollah denied the Israeli military’s claims about Mr. Burji’s role and involvement in the drone strike, calling them “baseless.” It had announced Mr. Burji’s death earlier in the day without providing details, and before that, said its strike on Safed was in retaliation for the killing on Monday of Wissam Hassan al-Tawil, a senior commander of Hezbollah’s elite Radwan unit.

Israel’s foreign minister, Israel Katz, appeared to claim responsibility for Mr. al-Tawil’s killing in a television interview late Monday. “This is part of our war,” Mr. Katz said in response to a question about the attack on the Radwan unit. “We strike on Hezbollah’s people.”

Mr. al-Tawil’s funeral was held on Tuesday afternoon, with a large procession of mourners carrying his coffin through Khirbet Selm, the village in southern Lebanon where he was killed. A Lebanese security official said that Israel carried out a strike during the gathering and killed one person.

The Israeli military did not immediately respond to questions about whether the reported attack was the airstrike that killed Mr. Burji. But The New York Times was able to verify the location captured in footage of the airstrike released by the military, confirming that it took place around the funeral in Khirbet Selm.

Hezbollah also said it fired at several areas in northern Israel, including Malkia and Yiftah, on Tuesday. The Israeli military later said it targeted the launch sites for the attacks in retaliation, as well as a drone squad in southern Lebanon, and that Israeli fighter jets had struck military hardware in the area of Kafr Kila.

Earlier Tuesday, Israel also killed three Hezbollah members in a strike on their vehicle in the southern Lebanese town of Ghandouriyeh, according to the Lebanese security official.

Hezbollah has pledged support for Hamas, and in recent days it has stepped up assaults on Israel in response to the killing last week of Saleh al-Arouri, a senior Hamas leader, outside Beirut.

Israeli leaders have repeatedly declared in recent weeks that there are only two options for restoring calm in the conflict with Hezbollah: a diplomatic solution that would move the Radwan forces farther from the border; or, failing that, a major Israeli military offensive aimed at achieving the same goal.

Johnatan Reiss and Arijeta Lajka contributed reporting.



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