Photo Credit: Erez Ben Simon / TPS
Some of the rockets in a barrage of 35 projectiles fired by Hezbollah at Kiryat Shmona caused serious property damage, with fires breaking out around the city. May 10, 2024

Hundreds of private homes have been damaged in rocket and missile attacks launched at northern Israel by Iran’s Lebanese proxy, Hezbollah, since October 7, 2023.

Since Hamas in Gaza launched its war against Israel, Hezbollah has launched more than 3,000 rockets and missiles at northern Israel. Many of the communities from which the residents were evacuated, and to which they hoped to soon return, suffered tremendous damage.

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Losing the North,” a special report by Israel’s Channel N12 News, cited data from the Northern Horizon Administration that revealed that as of May 15, 930 reports of damage to buildings in 86 communities in the Upper and Western Galilee have been received by the Defense Ministry.

“The settlements are neglected, the infrastructure is destroyed and the houses are dismantled. The settlements along the border fence are in a catastrophic situation,” regional council head Meta Asher and the chairman of the Line of Conflict Forum Moshe Davidovich told N12.

In the eight months since the Iron Swords War broke out — a war that within a day became a muted, multi-front war — there were 318 reports of “moderate to heavy” damage; approximately 450 private homes and 200 community buildings were damaged along with extensive damage to infrastructure.

At least seventy percent of the damage affected private homes; damage to infrastructure totaled some 18 percent of the figure, with 13 percent from damage to other property.

Approximately 25 percent of the damage was caused by Israeli military forces during operational activities, and the rest came from anti-tank missiles and rockets fired by Hezbollah.

All of the damage was assessed in communities located within nine kilometers of the Israel-Lebanon border, the Northern Horizon Administration data revealed. The Northern Horizon Administration works together with the Israel Tax Authority to compensate residents affected by the war.

Although many communities were affected by the attacks, Kibbutz Manara suffered the most, with more than 70 percent of its homes destroyed along with many public buildings. Following Manara is Kiryat Shmona, with 124 damage reports; Shlomi with 113 damage reports; Arab al-Aramshe with 99 damage reports; and Shtula, with 62 damage reports.

Thus far, the Israel Tax Authority has paid NIS 44 million to residents whose homes were damaged, although some cases are still being processed. Approximately 2,400 property tax cases have been opened.

As part of the “Defense of the North” program, the Northern Horizon Administration has delivered 419 bomb shelters, and another 320 shelters are in the planning process, with orders for another 1,192 shelters as well. In addition, 223 shelters were restored and renovated in Kiryat Shmona.

But it’s a drop in the bucket, when one takes into account that within just two kilometers of the northern border, there are at least 5,000 unprotected buildings, and tens of thousands of residents living in danger, without adequate shelters.

Shielding of the private homes in those communities is expected to last for years, according to the report. Shielding of educational institutions is expected to be completed in the coming months.

That, as Hezbollah continues to escalate and intensify its daily attacks; just yesterday (Monday), the Lebanese terror group launched nearly a dozen rocket, missile and explosive suicide drone attacks against northern Israeli communities.

Defense officials estimate that in the communities that have suffered the heaviest damage, residents will be able to return to their homes only about a year after the fighting ends; until then, they will be forced to continue as internal refugees.

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Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for Babble.com, Chabad.org and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.