A senior Hezbollah commander responsible for numerous explosive drone attacks on northern Israel, including an assault on an Israel Defense Forces (IDF) base, was killed in an Israeli airstrike in southern Lebanon. Ali Hussein Burji, the commander of Hezbollah’s aerial forces in southern Lebanon, oversaw the launching of explosive-laden unmanned aircraft at northern Israel and operated surveillance drones for intelligence gathering. The strike occurred in Khirbet Selm, shortly before the funeral of another senior Hezbollah commander, Wissam al-Tawil, who died in an alleged Israeli strike on Monday.
The IDF confirmed the successful strike, stating that Burji executed “dozens of operations using drones against Israel,” including the attack on the Northern Command headquarters. While Hezbollah acknowledged Burji’s death, the group denied he held the position of drone chief in southern Lebanon.
The same day, two explosives-laden drones launched by Hezbollah targeted the IDF Northern Command headquarters in Safed. Hezbollah claimed responsibility, citing Israeli assassinations of al-Tawil and Hamas official Saleh al-Arouri in Lebanon as motives. The attack triggered alerts and rocket sirens in northern communities, causing minor damage.
In response, the IDF launched interceptor missiles at aerial targets entering Israeli airspace from Lebanon. Subsequently, airstrikes targeted Hezbollah in southern Lebanon’s Kafr Kila, hitting a drone-launching squad. Additional airstrikes occurred in Kafr Kila and Yaroun, accompanied by artillery shelling in southern Lebanon to thwart potential Hezbollah attacks.
The escalating violence poses challenges to U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s efforts to prevent the conflict from expanding into a wider confrontation. Since October 8, Hezbollah has launched rockets, drones, and anti-tank missiles in support of Hamas during Israel’s military campaign in Gaza. The situation remains tense, with potential implications for the region’s stability.