IAF F-35 stealth fighter aircraft fly in Israeli airspace. Credit: IDF Spokesperson's Unit.

Following Hezbollah’s interception of an Israeli drone on Monday morning, the Israel Defense Forces said it was attacking the terrorist organization “deep inside Lebanon,” with reports of an attack in the area of Baalbek, located about 42 miles northeast of Beirut.

Fighter jets struck sites used by Hezbollah’s air defense array in the Beqaa Valley, “in response to the launch of surface-to-air missiles towards an unmanned aerial vehicle of the ‘Hermes 450’ type, that fell earlier today,” according to the IDF spokesperson.

The strikes are the deepest attack carried out by the IDF in Lebanese territory since the beginning of the war.

The Beirut-based An-Nahar newspaper reported that two people were killed in the attack on the Baalbek area and Hezbollah confirmed that two of its members were killed in three Israeli strikes. The terrorist group also claimed that a warehouse that was hit contained food for its al-Sajjad project, which sells food and consumables at below-market prices at Hezbollah grocery stores in the group’s strongholds.

Shortly after the Israeli strikes were reported, air-raid sirens sounded in Western Galilee communities, with first responders saying that one person was lightly wounded when a rocket fired from Lebanon hit a chicken coop in the border moshav of Shtula. The victim is listed in good condition with shrapnel wounds.

The Shi’ite terrorist organization took responsibility for downing the UAV, and the IDF later confirmed the incident.

According to the military, the David’s Sling medium-range air defense system intercepted a surface-to-air missile fired at the Israeli Air Force UAV, which triggered air-raid sirens in the area of Alon Tavor in the Jezreel Valley region of northern Israel. However, a second enemy missile was then launched at the drone, downing it.

Hezbollah said in a statement that the drone was a Hermes 450, and that it was brought down over the Nabatieh area.

Made by Haifa-based Elbit Systems, the Hermes 450 is one of Israel’s largest and most sophisticated drones, with a wingspan of more than 34 feet and a maximum speed of 100-plus miles per hour.

Israel will continue to expand its airstrikes on Hezbollah terror targets in Lebanon, even if Jerusalem reaches a ceasefire deal with Hamas in Gaza, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant vowed during a visit to the military’s Northern Command headquarters in Safed on Sunday.

“In the event of a temporary truce in Gaza, we will increase the fire in the north, and will continue until the full withdrawal of Hezbollah [from the border] and the return of the [Upper Galilee] residents to their homes,” Gallant said.

Hezbollah attacks have killed six civilians and 10 IDF soldiers since the Iran-backed Shi’ite militia joined the war in support of Hamas on Oct. 8. Some 80,000 Israelis have been displaced from their homes in communities within six miles of the Lebanese border as a result of the ongoing attacks.

“We are planning to increase the firepower against Hezbollah, which is unable to find replacements for the commanders we are eliminating,” Gallant said on Sunday.

“The goal is simple—to push Hezbollah back to where it should be. Either by [diplomatic] agreement, or we will do it by force,” he added.

Two Hezbollah members were killed in an IAF strike in Syria early Sunday, according to the U.K.-based war monitoring group Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

The attack occurred near the Lebanese border, in an area overlapping the governorates of Homs and the Damascus countryside, according to the NGO.

Three people were killed in the attack, according to the Hezbollah-affiliated Lebanese Al Mayadeen TV news channel.

Hezbollah on Sunday announced the deaths of two of its members in the alleged Israeli strike: Ahmed Muhammad al-Afi and Hussein Ali al-Dirani, both from the Beqaa area in Lebanon.

According to Hezbollah, 216 of its members have been killed since the start of the Israel-Hamas war on Oct. 7.

At the start of February, the IDF said that it attacked more than 50 targets belonging to Hezbollah and other Iran-backed terrorist groups in Syria since Oct. 7.

Israel

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