Israeli strikes on Lebanon kill eight including journalists and Hamas official
Two Israeli strikes on southern Lebanon have killed eight people, including two journalists working for a Lebanese TV channel and a senior Hamas official, according to Lebanese state media and official sources.
The deaths bring those killed in Lebanon since the beginning of hostilities along the border to more than 80 people, mostly fighters from the Lebanese armed group Hezbollah.
Violence along the border broke out after Hamas’s 7 October attack. Israel and the Iran-backed Hezbollah – a Hamas ally – have exchanged rocket fire in fighting that has steadily escalated.
Lebanese broadcaster Al Mayadeen said an Israeli strike on Tuesday near the town of Tir Harfa, about a mile from the Israeli border, had killed two of its journalists and a third person at the site where they were filming.
Al Mayadeen accused Israel of deliberately targeting the TV crew because the channel was known to be pro-Palestinian and pro-Iran’s regional military alliance.
Al Mayadeen named its killed journalists as correspondent Farah Omar and camera operator Rabih Me’mari. The third person killed was Hussein Aqil. Al Mayadeen told Reuters he was not working with the channel.
Lebanon’s caretaker prime minister, Najib Mikati, said in a statement that the strike was an Israeli attempt to silence the media, adding there were “no limits to Israeli crimes”.
Israel’s military said it was “aware of a claim regarding journalists … who were killed as a result of (Israeli army) fire.
“This is an area with active hostilities, where exchange of fire occur. Presence in the area is dangerous,” it said.
The Israeli military has previously said it cannot guarantee journalists’ safety in areas where it is fighting. Israeli authorities have sought to block Al Mayadeen’s websites and seize equipment linked to the station.
Hezbollah said it had retaliated over the killing of the journalists by firing at an Israeli base across the border.
Another Israeli strike on a car about seven miles (11km) from the border and near the southern city of Tyre killed four people later in the day, Lebanon’s state media reported.
Hamas identified one victim as one of its members, saying he was killed while “carrying out his duty” in southern Lebanon. Two Palestinian sources said he was a senior member of the armed wing of Hamas in Lebanon.
An elderly woman was also killed in an Israeli strike on Tuesday morning, according to Lebanon’s state media.
Israel-Lebanon border violence has escalated in recent days, raising fears of a widening war in the Middle East that could draw in both the US and Iran.
It is the worst violence at the border since Israel and Hezbollah fought a war in 2006 and has so far killed more than 70 Hezbollah fighters, 13 Lebanese civilians, seven Israeli troops and three Israeli civilians.
Tuesday’s deaths add to a toll of more than 50 journalists killed covering the war between Israel and Hamas and its spillover to other parts of the region since 7 October, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists.
Reuters visuals journalist Issam Abdallah was killed in southern Lebanon on 13 October.