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IDF Eliminates Key Hezbollah Operative during Lull in Rocket Fire

June 18, 2024

by: Itamar Eichner, Lior Ben Ari, Yair Kraus ~ Ynetnews

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The Hezbollah flag

Tuesday, 18 June 2024 | The last time Hezbollah claimed responsibility for any attack on Israel was on Saturday at around 2:00 p.m., when it claimed to have hit a military base on the border with a swarm of drones. The Israel Defense Forces [IDF], for its part, has not stopped its fire, and on Monday Hezbollah announced another operative has been eliminated: Muhammad Mustafa Ayoub, from the town of Selaa in southern Lebanon.

Hours after the strike, the IDF published documentation of the attack on Ayoub, who it described as “a key operative in the Rocket and Missile Department of Hezbollah’s Nasser Unit.”

Over the past few months, Ayoub was involved in promoting terror attacks against Israeli civilians and communities. He promoted and planned terror attacks from southern Lebanon against the State of Israel, according to the IDF.

“His elimination is part of the IDF and Israeli security forces’ activity to impede Hezbollah’s military build-up in terms of weaponry and its stockpiling of weapons designated for use in terror attacks against Israeli civilians and communities,” the IDF said in a statement.

Hezbollah has pledged to continue fighting in the north as long as the IDF continues its operation in the Gaza Strip, so the lull in attacks in recent days is unusual. A possible reason for the current quiet is the Eid al-Adha holiday, or the Feast of Sacrifice, which includes mass prayers by the residents of southern Lebanon. The cessation of Hezbollah’s attacks allowed some from the residents to return to their homes, assuming that the IDF will not attack as strongly as in recent days, as long as the terrorist organization does not return fire. In this way, the Lebanese also received a certain respite from the severe escalation of fighting in recent weeks, which Hezbollah forced upon them.

Against the backdrop of this lull, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, President Isaac Herzog and Opposition Leader Yair Lapid met on Monday—separately—with the US President Joe Biden’s envoy to the region, Amos Hochstein. The American envoy came as part of efforts to bring about a diplomatic solution in the north. Both in Israel and in the US, it is understood that his work mainly depends on one thing: a cease-fire in Gaza. If this is not promoted, he can only prepare an arrangement that will bring calm in the northern arena, and hope for a hostage deal that will stop the rocket fire.

Herzog met with Hochstein and talked with him about the incessant attacks and shooting from Hezbollah and the “urgent need” to restore security to the northern border and the residents to their homes. The president made it clear to Hochstein that the key to a solution is the release of the Israeli hostages being held for more than eight months in the Gaza Strip.

At the same time, Hochstein is trying to restrain Israel as well, after the IDF spokesman’s statement to the foreign media last night, in which he stated that “Hezbollah’s increasing aggression is bringing us to the brink of what could be a wider escalation—one that could have devastating consequences for Lebanon and the entire region.” Real Admiral Daniel Hagari also called on Lebanon to use its influence on Hezbollah—even though it is very small.

From Israel, Biden’s special envoy is expected to travel to Beirut, where he will meet with the Speaker of the Lebanese Parliament Nabih Berri, Prime Minister Najib Mikati and Foreign Minister Abdallah Bou Habib.

Behind these frequent trips to the region is a very heavy American fear that the conflict will spin into a multi-arena war. The Americans warn that a “limited war” could also get out of control and in such a situation, it could bring Iran and the Shiite militias into the conflict.

Against this backdrop, the “Fighting for the North” forum—which brings together about a thousand evacuees and residents—published an open letter calling on Netanyahu not to reach a “surrender” agreement with Hezbollah, which would not allow them to return to their homes safely. The residents’ fear is that even after the Second Lebanon War— which ended with UN Resolution 1701—Hezbollah did not respect the agreement, and actually took control of southern Lebanon without United Nations Interim Force In Lebanon [UNIFIL] forces or the Lebanese army interfering with it.

On Sunday, in an unusual statement to the English media, Hagari warned the international community that Hezbollah is bringing Israel to “the brink of what could be a wider escalation—one that could have devastating consequences for Lebanon and the region.”

Hagari, who issued the warning on the eve of Hochstein’s arrival, emphasized that “Hezbollah is endangering the future of Lebanon, so that it can be a shield for Hamas, a shield for the Hamas terrorists who murdered the elderly, raped women, burned children and kidnapped Jews, Muslims and Christians, during their massacre on October 7.”

Posted on June 18, 2024

Source: (Excerpt from an article originally published by Ynetnews on June 17, 2024. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Paul Keler/

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