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Killing of Hezbollah commander in Lebanon fuels fear Israel-Hamas war could expand outside Gaza – CBS News


By Haley Ott

/ CBS News

Blinken in Israel as war threatens to expand

Blinken in Israel as war threatens to expand


The Lebanon-based militant group Hezbollah confirmed Monday that one of its senior commanders, Wissam al-Taweel, was killed in southern Lebanon. Three security sources told the Reuters news agency he and another operative were killed when their car was hit by an Israeli strike.

“This is a very painful strike,” one of the sources told Reuters, while another alluded to long-simmering concerns that the ongoing Israel-Hamas war in Gaza could ignite another conflict on Israel’s northern border, saying: “Things will flare up now.”

The Israel Defense Forces did not immediately comment on al-Taweel’s death. 

Since Hamas launched its unprecedented terror attack on southern Israel on Oct. 7, there have been almost daily exchanges of fire along the Israel-Lebanon border between Hezbollah militants and Israeli forces.

At least 175 people have been killed in Lebanon, including 130 Hezbollah fighters, according to the AFP news agency. At least nine soldiers and four civilians have been killed in northern Israel, according to officials in the country, and thousands have been evacuated from their homes in border communities due to the ongoing fighting.

Israeli bombings in Lebanon stoking fears of wider conflict in Middle East


Hezbollah is one of the world’s most heavily armed non-state military forces and, like its ally Hamas, is backed by Iran. The ongoing exchange of fire between Hezbollah militants and the Israeli military has fueled concern for four months that the conflict could develop into a wider war between Israel and Iranian backed groups.

Hezbollah’s capabilities are “ten times more,” than Hamas’, Sima Shine, head of the Iran program at the Institute for National Security Studies, told CBS News. Shine said an all-out war between Israel and Hezbollah would be unlikely, but if it did occur, she said Israel would face a much stronger fighting force in the Lebanese group than it does with Hamas.

“It’s an army that is equipped much better than the Lebanese army, and they have a lot of experience after they participated in the war in Syria,” Shine said.

Israeli army hit the southern regions of Lebanon
Smoke rises after an Israeli strike on the town of Khiam in Nabatieh Governorate in southern Lebanon on January 07, 2024.

Ramiz Dallah/Anadolu/Getty

Earlier this month, a senior Hamas commander, Saleh al-Arouri, was killed in an explosion in Beirut, Lebanon’s capital, along with six other Hamas militants. Al-Arouri was one of the founders of Hamas’ military wing and was wanted by both the Israeli and American governments.

In response to the attack, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah said his own group must retaliate. He said if Hezbollah did not strike back, all of Lebanon would be vulnerable to Israeli attack.

“We affirm that this crime will never pass without response and punishment,” Nasrallah said on Lebanese television.

Haley Ott


Haley Ott is’s foreign reporter, based in the CBS News London bureau. Haley joined the team in 2018, prior to which she worked for outlets including Al Jazeera, Monocle, and Vice News.



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