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Hezbollah fires rockets after deadly Israeli strikes on east Lebanon

Hezbollah and Israel have exchanged near-daily fire since early October, but the violence has been largely contained to the border area
— Baalbek (Lebanon) (AFP)

Hezbollah on Monday fired a volley of rockets at an Israeli military base, the Lebanese group said after Israel's first strikes on Lebanon's east in months of hostilities linked to the Gaza war.

It was the first Israeli attack on Hezbollah outside Lebanon's south since war erupted on October 7 between Israel and Palestinian militant group Hamas, a Hezbollah ally.

Hezbollah and arch-foe Israel have exchanged near-daily fire, but strikes have been largely contained to the border area.

Two Hezbollah members were killed in the Israeli strikes in the eastern Baalbek area, two security officials in Lebanon and a source close to the Iran-backed group told AFP.

"In response to the Zionist aggression near the city of Baalbek," fighters targeted an army base in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights "with 60 Katyusha rockets", Hezbollah said in a statement.

The Israeli army told AFP that "dozens of rockets" had been launched from Lebanon. There were no immediate reports of casualties.

Lebanese soldiers and emergency service personnel inspect the site of the Israeli strike near Baalbek

Earlier the army said its strikes near Baalbek targeted Hezbollah "aerial defence" sites in retaliation for the group's downing one of its drones in south Lebanon.

One of the Lebanese security sources said Israeli strikes hit a building used by Hezbollah in a Baalbek suburb, and a warehouse near Baalbek belonging to the group.

Both sources requested anonymity as they were not authorised to speak to the press.

- 'Determination' -

Later Monday an Israeli strike on a car in southern Lebanon killed at least one person, local rescuers told AFP, without providing further details.

Hezbollah said a third fighter had been killed by Israeli fire.

The Israeli army said in a statement that the strike killed a Hezbollah fighter who "commanded recent terrorist activities... against Israeli civilians and soldiers".

Hezbollah announced several other attacks on Israeli sites and troops on Monday, with local media also reporting Israeli strikes on south Lebanon villages.

During a funeral procession for one of the group's fighters, Hezbollah lawmaker Hassan Fadlallah lambasted the strikes on Baalbek, a bastion of the Shiite Muslim movement near the border with Syria.

"This Zionist encroachment will not push us to retreat, it will rather increase our determination," Fadlallah said in a televised address.

The cross-border hostilities have killed at least 281 people on the Lebanese side, most of them Hezbollah fighters but also including 44 civilians, according to an AFP tally.

On the Israeli side, 10 soldiers and six civilians have been killed since October, according to the Israeli army.

Residents on both sides of the border have been displaced by the fighting, and Israeli officials have threatened military action to restore security in the country's north.

On Sunday, Israeli Defence Minister Yoav Gallant said there would be no let up in Israeli action against Hezbollah even if a ceasefire were secured in Gaza.

Hezbollah has said it will stop launching attacks on Israel if the Israeli military ends its Gaza offensive.

In January a strike, which a United States defence official said Israel carried out, killed Hamas's deputy leader Saleh al-Aruri and six militants in Hezbollah's south Beirut stronghold -- the most high-profile Hamas figure to be killed during the war.