War on Gaza: Israel kills top Hezbollah commander Wissam al-Tawil in Lebanon air strike
An Israeli air strike killed senior Hezbollah commander Wissam al-Tawil on Monday, a development that is likely to result in a further escalation between the two sides, which have been involved in a low intensity conflict since 7 October.
Tawil died along with another fighter from the Lebanese armed group, according to the Reuters news agency. The Israeli air strike targeted the pair's car in the village of Majdal Selm.
Known as “Jawad”, Tawil was a deputy head of a unit in the elite Radwan force and played an important role in Hezbollah's recent confrontations with the Israeli army.
"This is a very painful strike," one security source said, while another added, "Things will flare up now."
The commander played “a leading role in managing Hezbollah’s operations in the south”, according to one unnamed official speaking to the AFP news agency.
Israeli bombardment has killed hundreds of people in Lebanon in the aftermath of the attack by Hamas on southern Israel on 7 October.
Killing of senior Hamas official
On 6 January, Hezbollah said it targeted an important Israeli military post with a barrage of 62 rockets as a “preliminary response” to the killing of senior Hamas official Saleh al-Arouri.
Izzat al Rishq, a member of the Palestinian movement's political bureau, said Arouri was killed in a "cowardly assassination" by Israel, and warned such attacks would "not succeed in breaking the will and steadfastness of our people, or undermining the continuation of their valiant resistance".
"It proves once again the abject failure of this enemy to achieve any of its aggressive goals in the Gaza Strip," he said.
Ismail Haniyeh, the head of Hamas' political bureau, also slammed the killing and compared it with the assassination of other senior Hamas leaders, including the group's founder, Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, in 2004.
"The assassination of the leader Arouri and his brothers by the occupation is a fully fledged terrorist act, a violation of Lebanon's sovereignty, and an expansion of its aggression," Haniyeh said.
Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah said on Friday that all of Lebanon would be exposed if it did not react to the killing of the Hamas deputy chief and warned it would “certainly not go without reaction and punishment”.