Israeli forces are conducting an “offensive operation” in southern Lebanon, Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallad has announced, claiming that half of the commanders of the powerful Shiite Hezbollah group in the area have been “killed”.

It is not clear at this time whether the Israeli army has crossed into Lebanese territory.

“Many forces have been deployed to the border and the IDF (army) is currently conducting offensive action across southern Lebanon,” Galland said in a video message.

Israel’s military said earlier that its warplanes and artillery hit 40 targets linked to Hezbollah fighters around Haita and Shab in southern Lebanon, as fighting continued to escalate on Israel’s northern border.

“A short time ago, fighter jets and Israeli army artillery hit about 40 Hezbollah terrorist targets,” the army announced. Weapons depots and other infrastructure were among the targets, he added.

Also, Israel’s Defense Minister Yoav Gallad claimed that Israeli airstrikes have killed half of Hezbollah’s commanders in southern Lebanon since cross-border clashes, alongside the war in the Gaza Strip, began last October.