Funeral held for Lebanese schoolgirl sisters and grandmother killed in Israeli strike

The four civilians were killed as Israel struck southern Lebanon on Sunday

'The children burned before my eyes': Lebanese journalist talks of heartbreak of losing great nieces

'The children burned before my eyes': Lebanese journalist talks of heartbreak of losing great nieces
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Sisters Reemas, Talin and Layan Chour, aged 14, 12 and 10, and their grandmother Samira Ayoub were laid to rest in Blida cemetery, south Lebanon, on Tuesday morning.

The relatives of Lebanese journalist Samir Ayoub were killed on Sunday near Ainata, when an Israeli air strike hit their car.

Their mother Huda Hijazi was severely injured but is now in a stable condition in hospital.

Photos from Tuesday show a large gathering paying tribute, with women holding pictures of the three sisters. Hezbollah MP Ali Fayyad attended the funeral of the “Lebanese civilians martyred by Israeli aggression”, Hezbollah-owned Al Manar TV said.

The four civilians were killed on the road in their native southern Lebanon. Mr Ayoub, who was driving in another car in front, told The National they had been heading back to their hometown to retrieve schoolbooks the girls had left behind.

"I watched them burning before my eyes, there was nothing I could do," he said.

The sisters and their grandmother are among the 14 civilians killed on the Lebanese side in the border conflict, which has also claimed the lives of about 60 Hezbollah fighters, six Israeli soldiers and two Israeli civilians. On the Lebanese side, civilian deaths include Reuters journalist Issam Abdallah.

The continuing clashes between Israel and Iran-backed Hezbollah, an ally of Hamas, erupted a day after the start of the war in Gaza, the blockaded Palestinian strip controlled by Hamas. But to date, Hezbollah and Israeli forces have managed to restrain attacks on each other, avoiding the intense violence of their 2006 confrontation, in which about 1,300 were killed in just over a month.

Of the family's loss, Lebanon caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati said: "This crime is a new stain on the global conscience that condones what the Israeli occupation is doing in southern Lebanon and Gaza.”

Lebanon has lodged a complaint with the UN Security Council regarding “the murder of children and civilians” by Israel in southern Lebanon, Foreign Affairs Minister Abdallah Bou Habib said.

Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah has warned “all options are open” on the Lebanese front, promising every attack would provoke retaliation.

“For every civilian, a civilian,” he said in the televised speech.

Hezbollah said it would “never tolerate harm and assault on civilians” and retaliated by firing a barrage of Katyusha rockets on the Israeli town of Kiryat Shmona.

Observers fear a miscalculation could spark a broader escalation, potentially drawing the entire country into the conflict.

“The potential for escalation to spiral out of control is clear and must be stopped,” said Andrea Tenenti, spokesman for the UN interim force in Lebanon.

"Any civilian death is a tragedy. No one wants to see more people hurt or killed.

"Attacks against civilians are a violation of international law that may amount to war crimes. We urge everyone to cease fire now, to prevent more people from being hurt."

Earlier on Sunday, an Israeli army spokesman said a civilian near its northern border had been killed by an anti-tank guided missile launched from Lebanon.

Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported that in response, an Israeli military drone hit a car on the Lebanese side of the border. “It appears a mistake was made in identifying the source of the anti-tank missile,” Haaretz reported.

Israeli military spokesman Admiral Daniel Hagari said: “We study and investigate all incidents that take place to know the details,” without giving further information.

Updated: November 07, 2023, 1:24 PM