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Hezbollah Commander Among 10 Dead in Israeli Strike on Lebanon

An Israeli strike killed a Hezbollah commander, two fighters, and seven civilians in the southern Lebanese city of Nabatiyeh, a security source said Thursday, raising fears of further escalation.

Lebanon’s Iran-backed Hezbollah movement and its arch-foe Israel have been exchanging near-daily fire across the border since the Israel-Hamas war broke out on October 7.

On the bloodiest day since then, the Israeli military said in a statement it had killed Hezbollah commander Ali al-Debs, his deputy, and another fighter in Nabatiyeh on Wednesday.

A security source in Lebanon said that, along with Debs and two other Hezbollah members, the strike had killed seven civilians from the same family. The source requested anonymity as they were not authorized to speak to the media.

The deaths brought to 10 the total number of civilians killed in Israeli strikes on Wednesday, the highest such toll since the cross-border hostilities erupted.

In its statement, the Israeli military said Debs, his deputy, and another fighter were killed “in a precise air strike carried out by an IDF (Israeli army) aircraft on a Hezbollah military structure in Nabatiyeh.”

Hezbollah announced Thursday that three of its fighters including Debs had been killed, without specifying where they had died. It had already said two other members were killed on Wednesday.

The Israeli army had said it lost a soldier in unclaimed rocket fire from Lebanon on Wednesday and that its warplanes carried out strikes on Lebanon.

Debs had already been targeted and wounded in an Israeli drone strike in the southern city on February 8.


Lebanon’s official National News Agency had identified five of the dead civilians in Nabatiyeh as Hussein Barjawi, his two daughters, his sister, and his grandson. His wife and niece were also killed, the security source said.

Emergency responders pulled a boy alive from the rubble, the NNA added, while another relative and at least six other people were taken to hospital.

The agency said the Israeli strike was carried out by “a drone with a guided missile.”

An AFP photographer said the ground and first floors of the three-story residential building were hit, with pieces of furniture strewn among the rubble.

Also Wednesday, the NNA said Israeli warplanes targeted a house in south Lebanon’s Sawwaneh, killing three members of the same family — a Syrian woman and her child, aged two, and stepchild, 13.

Hezbollah, an ally of Hamas, which is also backed by Iran, says it has been targeting Israeli military sites in support of the Palestinian Islamist group’s war with Israel in the Gaza Strip.

‘Deeply Concerning’

Fears have been growing of another full-blown conflict between Israel and Hezbollah, which last went to war in 2006.

Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati on Thursday condemned the Israeli strikes and “new massacres,” particularly the civilian deaths in Nabatiyeh.

He said that while Lebanon urged “all parties” to avoid escalation, “we find that the Israeli enemy keeps up its aggression,” adding that Beirut would lodge a complaint with the UN Security Council.

A spokesman for the United Nations peacekeepers in Lebanon on Thursday urged “intensified” diplomatic efforts “to restore stability and safeguard the safety of civilians.”

“The devastation, loss of life, and injuries witnessed are deeply concerning,” said Andrea Tenenti from the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) in a statement, urging “all parties involved to halt hostilities immediately to prevent further escalation.”

United Nations humanitarian coordinator for Lebanon, Imran Riza, said “the rules of war are clear: Parties must protect civilians.”

The Shiite Muslim group on Thursday claimed attacks on Israeli “spy equipment” and a barracks, while the Israeli military said fighter jets struck “dozens” of Hezbollah targets in south Lebanon.

Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah is due to speak on Friday, his second such address this week.

The cross-border violence has killed at least 259 people on the Lebanese side, most of them Hezbollah fighters but also including 40 civilians, according to an AFP tally.

On the Israeli side, 10 soldiers and six civilians have been killed, according to the Israeli army.

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