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At least seven people – including four civilians, among them two journalists – were killed on Tuesday by Israeli strikes in south Lebanon, bringing the total number of civilian deaths to at least 14 since the hostilities between Lebanese group Hezbollah and Israel started on October 8.
Farah Omar and Rabih Al Maamari, who worked for the Pan-Arabist Al Mayadeen TV network, were killed while reporting in an open area at the crossroads between Tayr Harfa and Jibbein, about 6km from the Lebanese border with Israel, Lebanon's National News Agency reported. Their guide, Hussein Aqeel, was also killed.
An 80-year-old Lebanese woman, Laiqa Serhan, was killed on Tuesday in separate Israeli artillery shelling in Kfarkila, south Lebanon. Her granddaughter was injured, according to the National News Agency.
Separately, at least three members of the Palestinian group Hamas were killed in a strike on their car in the southern Lebanese area of Al Shaitiya, according to Ali Abbas of Al Resala Scouts Association. The organisation is affiliated with the Amal Movement, a close ally of Hezbollah.
The National News Agency had previously reported four people were killed in the strike on the vehicle, but Mr Abbas said there were three bodies.
“It was three bodies. At first we could not tell how many people it was because they were badly burnt,” Mr Abbas said. “When we pulled them out, it became clear they were three.”
Hezbollah said it had retaliated against the “Zionist enemy’s targeting of the journalists of Al Mayadeen Channel” by launching two separate attacks at northern Israel.
Two guided missiles were fired at “a military gathering of intelligence officers” near the town of Manara in northern Israel, and two were launched at a group of Israeli soldiers “inside a house” in the town of Avivim.
The Iran-backed group said both attacks led to a number of deaths and injuries. The Israeli military did not acknowledge any deaths, but does not typically immediately announce casualties.
Three journalists reporting from Lebanon have been killed since the start of the conflict, including Issam Abdallah from Reuters, amid accusations by Lebanese officials that Israel is deliberately attacking reporters.
“This crime and the previous ones, including the killing of journalist Issam Al Abdullah reveals the important role that media plays,” Hezbollah's media bureau said, calling on “the media, international and humanitarian bodies to condemn this crime and similar crimes that preceded it”.
The Israeli military said it was “looking into the details of the incident”, AFP reported.
Lebanon's caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati “strongly condemned” the Israeli attack on journalists.
“This attack proves once again there are no limits to Israeli crimes, and that [Israel's] goal is to silence the media that exposes its crimes and attacks,” he said in a statement.
Al Mayadeen director Ghassa bin Jiddo said in an interview on the channel that “it was a direct attack, it was not by chance”.
He stressed the attack came after the Israeli government decided to block access to Al Mayadeen’s website.
Last week, the Israeli cabinet shut down the Beirut-based news channel, perceived to be pro-Hezbollah, citing “national security” concerns. The channel also has reporters in Israel.
The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists said that as of November 21, 50 journalists and media professionals, of which 45 were Palestinian, have been killed amid the Israel-Gaza war.
At least 90 people, most of them Hezbollah fighters, have been killed on the Lebanese side in cross-border strikes since last month, according to an AFP tally.
Civilian casualties also included three Lebanese girls aged 10, 12 and 14, and their grandmother. They were killed by an Israeli air strike on November 5 while fleeing from the southern border back to Beirut, unleashing a wave of anger and shock across the country.
Meanwhile, six Israeli soldiers and three civilians have been killed, according to AFP.
Armed groups led by Hezbollah have been exchanging fire with Israel since October 8 in support of their ally Hamas, following the Palestinian militant group's sudden attack on Israel and its retaliatory war on Gaza.
During a long-awaited speech on November 3, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah warned that “all options are open” on the Lebanese front, and that every action would be met with an equal and corresponding reaction.
“For every civilian, a civilian,” he said.
The long-time enemies have shown some restraint so far, but there are concerns that miscalculations, including civilian casualties, could lead to a broader escalation of the conflict.