© Reuters. Footage from Al-Mayadeen TV shows emergency teams working next to a burned vehicle at the scene where Hezbollah says an Israeli strike killed three children, in southern Lebanon on November 5, 2023. AL-MAYADEEN TV/handout via REUTERS
BEIRUT/JERUSALEM (Reuters) – An Israeli strike on a car in southern Lebanon killed three children and their grandmother on Sunday, Lebanese authorities said, while the Israeli army said a Hezbollah attack since Lebanon had killed an Israeli citizen in northern Israel.
The Iranian-backed Lebanese group Hezbollah said it responded to the Israeli strike, in which three girls aged 10 to 14 were killed, by firing a barrage of Grad rockets at the town of Kiryat Shmona, in northern Israel.
This is the first time Hezbollah has announced that it has used this particular weapon during four weeks of clashes with Israeli forces, highlighting the risks of escalation.
In a statement, Hezbollah said it would never tolerate attacks on civilians and that its response would be “firm and strong.”
“The enemy will pay the price for its crimes against civilians,” Hezbollah MP Hassan Fadlallah told Reuters.
The Israeli military said its troops engaged a vehicle “identified as a suspected means of transport for terrorists” in Lebanon on Sunday, and was investigating reports that civilians were inside.
Lebanon’s interim prime minister, Najib Mikati, called it a “heinous crime.” Foreign Minister Abdallah Bou Habib told Reuters that Lebanon would file a complaint with the United Nations over the killing of civilians, including children, in the attack.
Footage broadcast by al-Mayadeen television showed rescuers removing one of the victims from the still-smoldering remains of the car.
A report from Lebanese security forces said the children were killed when Israel targeted the car they were in as it traveled between the villages of Aynata and Aitaroun.
Their grandmother was also killed and their mother was injured.
Israel and Hezbollah have been exchanging fire across the border since the Palestinian militant group Hamas and Israel went to war on October 7. It is the worst cross-border violence since Israel and Hezbollah fought a war in 2006.
The Israeli military said an Israeli was killed in a Hezbollah attack across the border on Sunday, without giving further details.
Mikati met with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Amman on Saturday and stressed the importance of working towards a ceasefire in Gaza and ending Israeli aggression in southern Lebanon, the official news agency reported.
DRONE Shot down
Earlier on Sunday, the Israeli military said its air defenses intercepted a drone flying towards Israel from Lebanon as it flew over Lebanese territory, and that an anti-tank missile fired from Lebanon hit the Yiftah area, in northern Israel.
Hezbollah announced several attacks on Israeli positions on the border using guided missiles and other weapons.
The Israeli military said the drone was identified flying from the depths of Lebanon towards Israel.
The Lebanese National News Agency, citing its correspondent, reported earlier that Hezbollah shot down a hostile drone over southern Lebanon, the wreckage of which fell over the villages of Zebdine and Harouf, 30 km from the border.
There was no comment from Hezbollah on this report.
Hezbollah said for the first time that it was using anti-aircraft missiles in the latest hostilities.
In an incident 3 km from the border, a reconnaissance troop affiliated with the Lebanese Amal movement, an ally of Hezbollah, said four of its paramedics were injured by an Israeli drone strike.
The Islamic Association of Scouts Al-Risala said the drone directly hit two cars as rescuers evacuated people from a house hit in a previous Israeli attack near the village of Tayr Harfa.