Israel shelling killed two civilians in South Lebanon

Heavy fires were exchanged at the Lebanese-Israeli border on Saturday killing two Lebanese civilians

A shell from Israeli artillery explodes near Alma Al Shaab, close to Lebanon's border with Israel, on Friday. AP Photo
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Shelling by Israel's military killed two civilians in the Shebaa village in southern Lebanon on Saturday.

“A man and his wife have been killed in their home by Israeli shelling,” mayor Mohammad Harb told AFP.

On Friday, a Lebanese videographer, Issam Abdallah, was killed and six others where injured when Israeli fire hit the area they were covering in south Lebanon.

The shelling on Saturday followed heavy fire between Israel and Hezbollah along the Lebanese border, marking the latest escalation in violence following last weekend's unprecedented attack on Israel by the Gaza-based Hamas militant group.

Israel’s military said that it launched strikes into Lebanon in response to a Hezbollah attack on Saturday afternoon.

“Approximately 30 mortar shells were identified as being fired towards Israeli territory, with some of them crossing into our territory," it said.

In response it “targeted the sources of the fire and continues to strike within Lebanese territory at this time”, army spokesman Daniel Hagari wrote on X, formerly Twitter.

The Israeli army said it had launched aircraft strikes against a group that tried to infiltrate Israel from Lebanon during the mortar shelling.

Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported that five Israelis were wounded by the shelling, including one who is in critical condition.

Hezbollah said its strikes targeted Israeli bases in Shebaa Farms and the Kafr Shuba Hills, using mortars and guided missiles, and destroyed an Israeli radar site.

“Those who have been oppressed have been given the right to fight back,” the powerful Lebanese Shiite militia said in a statement.

The exchange of fire comes amid growing concerns that the Israel-Gaza war might spill over into Lebanon.

The Shebaa Farms are disputed between Lebanon and Israel. The area was captured by Israel in 1967 from Syria, but Lebanon claims that both the Shebaa Farms and the adjacent Kfar Shuba hills should be recognised as part of its territory.

New infiltration attempts

Earlier on Saturday, Israeli army spokesman Avichay Adraee said it had stopped an attempt by a group to breach its border from Lebanon.

A Lebanese security source told The National that the incident seemed to have been an infiltration attempt.

“We heard sounds in the Houla area [in south-east Lebanon]. We don’t know if it was a plane or a drone,” the source said, without indicating who the suspects might have been.

Some Palestinian groups also operate in southern Lebanon. A Hezbollah spokesman said the infiltrators were not its fighters.

Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian said the decision to open a new front in South Lebanon rests with Hezbollah.

“It is up to the Resistance [Hezbollah] to decide whether to open a new front or respond to a crime. They set the conditions they desire,” Mr Amirabdollahian said at a press conference on Sunday at the Iranian Embassy in Beirut.

“The security of Lebanon matters to everyone, including Iran. Opening a new front is possible, depending on the circumstances,” he added.

“The Lebanese government bears responsibility for every attack launched from Lebanon towards our sovereignty,” Israeli army spokesman Mr Adraee said on X, formerly Twitter. “Anyone who tries to cross the border into our lands will be killed.”

The Lebanese government previously said it did not want the country to be dragged into the conflict, while condemning the Israeli attacks in Gaza.

German airline Lufthansa said it is suspending its flights to Beirut until October 16, AFP reported.

Updated: October 15, 2023, 4:50 AM