Middle East

Two civilians killed in Hezbollah rocket attack on Golan Heights

Two Israeli civilians were killed in a rocket impact in the Golan Heights on Tuesday evening, police said, amid a barrage of some 40 rockets fired by Hezbollah, hours after one of its operatives was killed in a purported Israeli strike on the Beirut-Damascus highway in Syria.

The man and woman were killed when a rocket directly struck a vehicle they were in, rescue services said. The pair were passing by the Nafah Junction on Route 91.

Their deaths brought the number of civilians killed in Israel amid months-long clashes with Hezbollah to 12.

Taking responsibility for the attack, the terror group claimed to have targeted the IDF’s Nafah base, located just south of the community of Ortal.

The Iran-backed terror group said the attack was in response to the death of its operative Yasser Qarnabash in Syria earlier in the day. Hezbollah confirmed Qarnabash’s death following reports in Arabic media but did not detail his role or rank.

The Shiite Muslim group said that it had launched “dozens of Katyusha rockets” at Israel “in response to the attack and assassination that the Israeli enemy carried out… on the Damascus-Beirut Road.”

Security and rescue forces near the scene of a direct rocket strike on a car near Nafah Junction, in the Golan Heights, July 9, 2024. (Ayal Margolin/Flash90)

Qarnabash was said to have been killed in a strike on a Hezbollah vehicle near a Syrian army checkpoint on the Damascus-Beirut highway. The strike was attributed to Israel by Syrian state media, although the IDF did not comment on the matter. One other Hezbollah operative was reportedly killed in the incident, and the Syrian driver was critically wounded.

Speaking to AFP on the condition of anonymity, a source close to Hezbollah said that Qarnabash was a former bodyguard to Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah. According to security sources, the operative had been a mid-ranking official involved in transporting weapons across the border on behalf of the Iran-backed terror group.

Supporters of the terror group mourned his death in social media posts, referring to him as the “shield of the Sayyed” — in reference to his ostensible tenure as Nasrallah’s bodyguard.

His death brought the terror group’s toll amid the Gaza war to at least 364.

The skirmishes along the Israel-Lebanon border began on October 8, when Hezbollah-led forces began attacking Israeli communities and military posts in what the group said was a show of support for Gaza amid the war there.

So far, the near-daily clashes have resulted in 12 civilian deaths on the Israeli side, as well as the deaths of 16 IDF soldiers and reservists. There have also been several attacks from Syria, without any injuries.

In addition to the Hezbollah members killed in both Lebanon and Syria, another 65 operatives from other terror groups, a Lebanese soldier, and dozens of civilians have been killed.

Earlier on Tuesday, the Syrian defense ministry said an alleged Israeli strike had caused damage but no casualties near the coastal city of Baniyas. According to Syrian pro-opposition sources, Iranian military advisors were based in the area.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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