Family of four killed in an Israel strike in south Lebanon

The attack on Kherbet Salem comes as fears grow of a broader conflict in Lebanon

A paramedic at the site of an Israeli air strike in the southern Lebanese village of Odaisseh near the border with Israel. AFP
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At least five people were killed on Saturday evening, four from the same family, and nine others were injured in an Israeli strike on a house in Kherbet Selem in southern Lebanon.

The victims were identified as Jafar Merji, 55, and his two sons, Ali, 30, and Hassan, 27, and their mother, Lebanon's official National News Agency said.

Originally from Blida, they were among the 73,000 Lebanese displaced who fled violence in their village.

Kherbet Selem is around 12km from the border, which had been considered to be a safer location. The fighting has been mainly confined to the border regions, but fears have grown of a broader conflict in Lebanon.

The air strike resulted in the destruction of the house and severe damage to dozens of surrounding houses, the NNA said.

The Israeli army said it struck several Hezbollah sites in southern Lebanon overnight, including a site where “Hezbollah operatives” were spotted in Khirbet Selm. It added that “five members of a family, including three Hezbollah members, were killed in the Khirbet Selem strike”.

Iran-backed Hezbollah said later that the father and sons were members of its reserve forces.

The militants claimed nine attacks against northern Israel on the same day.

Ambulance and relief teams worked for hours to retrieve their bodies and transfer them to the government hospital in Tibnine.

The border clashes since October have killed at least 312 people in Lebanon, mostly Hezbollah fighters but including 56 civilians, according to an AFP tally.

On the Israeli side, 10 soldiers and seven civilians have been killed.

Last Tuesday, a Lebanese couple and their son were killed in an Israeli strike on a house in the southern border village of Hula.

Human Rights Watch said the recent rise in civilian casualties in southern Lebanon was “extremely worrying”.

US envoy Amos Hochstein was on a tour of Lebanon and Israel earlier this week to reach a negotiated resolution to the cross-border hostilities.

Hezbollah has repeatedly said its fighters would not stand down before a ceasefire is secured in the Israel-Gaza war.

Israeli Defence Minister Yoav Gallant said that any truce in Gaza would not change Israel's goal of pushing Hezbollah out of southern Lebanon, by force or diplomacy.

Negotiations aimed at brokering a ceasefire in Gaza before Ramadan have stalled.

Updated: March 10, 2024, 8:39 AM