A senior commander of the militant group Hezbollah was killed in an Israeli airstrike in southern Lebanon, raising concerns of a wider Mideast war as fighting raged near the main hospital in central Gaza.
The strike on Monday targeted an SUV driven by Wissam al-Tawil, a commander in a secretive Hezbollah force that operates along the Israel-Lebanon border, according to a Lebanese security official, who spoke on condition of anonymity according to regulations.
It comes as U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken is visiting regional capitals in a bid to head off a wider conflict from the Israel-Hamas war.
Israel says it has largely concluded major operations in northern Gaza and is now focusing on the central region and the southern city of Khan Younis. Israeli officials have said the fighting will continue for many more months as the army seeks to dismantle Hamas and return scores of hostages taken during the militant group’s Oct. 7 attack that triggered the war.
Hamas’ attack from Gaza into southern Israel killed around 1,200 people, and some 250 others were taken hostage. Israel’s air, ground and sea assault in Gaza has killed more than 22,400 people, two-thirds of them women and children, according to the Health Ministry in the Hamas-ruled territory. The count does not differentiate between civilians and combatants.
— With every strike and counterstrike, Israel, the US and Iran’s allies inch closer to all-out war
— Israel says Hezbollah struck sensitive air traffic base in the north and warns of ‘another war’
— Blinken brings US push on post-war Gaza planning and stopping conflict to UAE and Saudi Arabia
— 7 Palestinians, an Israeli policewoman and a motorist are killed in West Bank violence
— An Al Jazeera journalist is the fifth member of his family killed by Israeli strikes on Gaza
— Find more of AP’s coverage at: https://apnews.com/hub/israel-hamas-war.
Here’s what’s happening in the war:
ISRAELI STRIKE KILLS A SENIOR HEZBOLLAH COMMANDER
BEIRUT — An Israeli airstrike in southern Lebanon on Monday killed a senior commander of the militant group Hezbollah, a Lebanese security official said.
The assassination comes as clashes between Iran-backed Hezbollah militants and the Israeli military along the Lebanon-Israel border have intensified. An Israeli strike last week killed a top official with the militant Palestinian group Hamas in Beirut, and two days later, Hezbollah launched a wide-ranging missile attack on an Israeli military base in Mount Meron in north Israel in retaliation.
The Israeli military did not immediately comment on the strike Monday. It said fighter jets have targeted Hezbollah infrastructure in southern Lebanon.
The Lebanese security official, speaking on condition of anonymity in line with regulations, said that Israel struck a commander from Hezbollah’s elite Radwan Forces. Hezbollah identified him as Wissam al-Tawil. The strike hit a Honda SUV in the southern village of Khirbet Selm, while he was driving it, the official said.
— By Associated Press writer Kareem Chehayeb in Beirut.
ISRAELI JUDGE WILL JOIN ICJ PANEL HEARING GENOCIDE CASE AGAINST ISRAEL
TEL AVIV, Israel — Israel’s Justice Ministry says former Supreme Court Chief Justice Aharon Barak will serve as a judge at the International Court of Justice, joining a panel that will hear South Africa’s genocide case against Israel.
Barak, an influential Israeli jurist with international renown, is at the center of a national divide in Israel over the power of the courts. Critics, including from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s far-right government, say he is an overly activist judge who in the 1990s spearheaded legal changes that granted courts more sway. Opponents of Netanyahu’s plan to overhaul the judiciary see Barak as a champion of democracy and liberal values.
Israel and South Africa are both entitled to send judges to sit alongside the regular 15-judge panel, according to Israeli international law expert Robbie Sabel. Israel will have British international law expert Malcolm Shaw as part of its defense team, the Justice Ministry also said Monday.
Barak, 87, is a Holocaust survivor. He will be among the judges deciding whether to issue an interim order demanding Israel halt its war. Such orders are legally binding but not always enforceable.
The court this week will begin hearing South Africa’s allegations against Israel that it is committing genocide against Palestinians in Gaza. Israel says it is acting in self-defense after hundreds of Hamas-led militants killed 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and took 250 people hostage during its attack on Oct. 7.
ISRAELI FINANCE MINISTER SAYS ISRAEL SHOULD RESETTLE GAZA STRIP
TEL AVIV, Israel — Israel’s ultranationalist finance minister says Israel must resettle the Gaza Strip, saying that otherwise the country will need to contend with “2 million Nazis who want to annihilate us.”
Bezalel Smotrich, a champion of West Bank Jewish settlements, has repeatedly made inflammatory remarks about Israel’s post-war intentions in Gaza. He recently sparked an international outcry over his comments calling for Palestinians in Gaza to leave the territory.
He and other far-right Cabinet ministers in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government have used the war against Hamas to promote their view that Israel should resettle Gaza, from where it withdrew troops and several thousand civilians in 2005.
Speaking late Sunday a conservative television station, Smotrich said Israel must reestablish a Jewish presence in the coastal enclave because “if we won’t be there and there will be 2 million Nazis who want to annihilate us every morning when they wake up, we won’t exist, period.”
He said Israel would face more militant attacks like Hamas’ Oct. 7 assault without Jewish settlement in the Gaza Strip. Israeli settlements in Gaza, which were established in the 1967 Mideast war, also faced attacks by militants.