BEIRUT: Israeli strikes on south Lebanon on Sunday killed seven people, official media and a source close to Hezbollah said, as Israel’s military claimed attacks targeting the Iran-backed group.

Hezbollah, a Hamas ally, has traded regular cross-border fire with Israel since the Pales­tinian group’s October raid on Israel which escalated war in Gaza.

Lebanon’s official National News Agency (NNA) reported that “the Israeli enemy targeted a motorbike in Hula”, a border village, “leading to two martyrs and two wounded”.

It was the third such strike on people on motorbikes in south Lebanon on Sunday, the agency said.

The NNA had earlier reported “two martyrs and wounded civilians in the raid that targeted a motorcycle in Aita al-Shaab”, another border village.

It was unclear weather civilians were among the dead in Hula and Aita al-Shaab.

The NNA also reported unspecified casualties in a separate strike earlier that “targeted a motorbike” in the border town of Naqura.

The Israeli army said in a statement that a Hezbollah man was identified exiting a military structure in the Naqura area, adding that “an aircraft struck and eliminated” the operative.

It also said the army struck two Hezbollah fighters who were identified operating in the Aita al-Shaab area.

Hezbollah announced a fighter had been killed, and a source close to the group said he died in Naqura.

The powerful movement claimed several attacks on Israeli troops and positions on Sunday, including some in retaliation for the Naqura and Aita al-Shaab strikes.

In recent weeks Hezbollah has stepped up its cross-border attacks, which it says are in support of Gazans and its ally Hamas, while Israel has struck deeper into Lebanese territory.

The violence has killed at least 438 people in Lebanon, including 82 civilians, according to a tally.

Israel says 14 soldiers and 11 civilians have been killed on its side of the border.

Published in Dawn, May 27th, 2024

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