Two killed and journalists targeted in separate Israeli attacks on south Lebanon

Strikes come following Hezbollah's attacks on Israeli military sites on Sunday, in which several people were injured

Smoke rises from an Israeli air strike on a Lebanese village near the border with Israel. AP
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Two people were killed on Monday following an Israeli air strike that levelled a residence in the southern Lebanese town of Ainata, Lebanon's state news agency said.

They are the latest casualties in an intensifying border conflict between armed militants, led by the Lebanese group Hezbollah, and Israel.

It was not clear whether the two Lebanese people killed in the strike were civilians or fighters.

The Israeli Electricity Company also announced the death of one of its employees on Monday from critical injuries sustained in Hezbollah’s attack on a convoy near the Dovev military barracks.

The Israeli military vowed on Sunday to "change the security situation in the north [of Israel]" after the attacks, which resulted in at least 14 additional injuries, both military and civilian.

In a separate incident, Israel twice fired artillery at the southern Lebanese town of Yaroun, metres away from where a group of journalists from various outlets were operating.

Only minor injuries were reported.

The southern Lebanese village of Yaroun lies directly across the border from the Israeli town of Dovev, where electricity company employees and Israeli soldiers had been hit in a Hezbollah attack the previous day.

The incident was filmed live by Al Jadeed, a local Lebanese channel. The news anchor could be heard speaking to correspondent Rif Akil over the air, who was on the ground reporting when the artillery struck nearby.

“It’s clear the rocket has fallen just a few metres away from you,” the anchor said as the camera filmed the destruction caused by the strike. “It’s clear this is a direct strike on journalists operating in Yaroun.”

“Yes,” Akil answered as she caught her breath.

The strike on the journalists Monday came exactly one month after Israeli strikes on Reuters, Al Jazeera, and AFP journalists who, clearly marked as press, were reporting on clashes near Ayta al Shaab. Reuters journalist Issam Abdallah was killed in that attack.

Hezbollah and allied groups have waged a war of attrition against Israel since October 8, seeking to divert Israel’s focus from Gaza.

The border conflict has escalated significantly since Saturday, when Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah said the southern Lebanese front would “remain a front of pressure”.

Sunday’s significant progression of hostilities on the Lebanon-Israel border prompted Israeli army spokesman Admiral Daniel Hagari to say that Israel will “change the security situation in the north”.

“Lebanese citizens will pay the price of this lawlessness and the decision of Hezbollah to be the protector of ISIS," Admiral Hagari said, comparing Hamas with the extremist group.

He said Hezbollah and the Lebanese government would bear responsibility for the attacks.

Daily clashes have intensified between Lebanon's Hezbollah and Israel in the past month, as both parties fight a war of attrition while attempting not to be drawn into full-scale war.

Hezbollah has conducted or provided armed groups with cover for daily attacks on Israel’s northern border with Lebanon, seeking to prevent Israel from focusing its full attention on its bombardment of the blockaded Gaza Strip.

But the Iran-backed group has not launched a full-scale campaign, despite escalating tension at the border.

Armed Iran-allied groups in Syria, Yemen and Iraq have also attacked Israel, seeking to divert its attention from Gaza.

Israel has also tempered its responses in an attempt to prevent a full-scale confrontation from breaking out and turning into a regional war.

More than a month of violence has claimed at least 90 lives on the Lebanese side, with 72 Hezbollah fighters and at least 10 civilians among the dead.

Members of armed Palestinian groups operating from Lebanon were also among the casualties.

The Israeli army told The National that eight of its soldiers have been killed on the Lebanon-Israel front since the fighting began, but declined to provide numbers for civilian casualties.

After Mr Nasrallah’s speech last week, Israeli Defence Minister Yoav Gallant warned that residents of Beirut would pay the price if Israel was dragged into war with Hezbollah.

“What we are doing in Gaza we know how to do in Beirut,” he threatened during a visit to the border region.

“I am saying here to the citizens of Lebanon, I already see the citizens in Gaza walking with white flags along the coast and moving south."

Mr Nasrallah has repeatedly conditioned the end of Hezbollah’s war of attrition on a ceasefire in Gaza – but he also said that “all options are open” on the Lebanese front against Israel, and that every action would be met with an equal and corresponding reaction.

“For every civilian, a civilian,” he promised in his televised speech.

Earlier this month three schoolgirls and their grandmother were killed in an Israeli air strike. Hezbollah promised retribution for their killing.

Updated: November 13, 2023, 4:56 PM