An Israeli drone strike in southern Lebanon killed four members of the Hamas terror group, a Palestinian official and a Lebanese security official said Tuesday.
The strike occurred in the village of Chaatiyeh near the Mediterranean coast, according to the officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to reveal military information.
Lebanon’s state-run National News Agency confirmed that four people were killed in a vehicle but did not give any further details.
The Palestinian official said the four were members of the al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas’s military wing. The Lebanese security official said the four were members of Hamas, without specifying if they were from the military wing.
The Israeli military did not comment on the strike.
According to unconfirmed reports circulating on social media, among the Hamas members killed today was Khalil Kharaz, the deputy commander of Hamas’s Lebanon wing.
Photo of Khalil Kharaz circulating on Telegram: pic.twitter.com/50kUQYDNrI
— Jason Brodsky (@JasonMBrodsky) November 21, 2023
Hours earlier, an Israeli strike in south Lebanon killed two journalists and a civilian, official Lebanese media claimed on Tuesday, shortly after the Israel Defense Forces said it struck several Hezbollah anti-tank missile squads in southern Lebanon and other sites in response to missile fire toward Metula, in northern Israel.
Shortly before 9 a.m., three anti-tank guided missiles were fired from Lebanon at the Metula area, close to the border. A short while later, several mortars were fired from Lebanon at an army post on the border, causing no injuries, according to the IDF.
In response, the IDF said it struck several sites belonging to the Iran-backed terror group, as well as three Hezbollah missile squads preparing to carry out further attacks.
The attack on Metula, in which no injuries were reported, was the latest of more than 1,000 missile, rocket, and drone attacks carried out by Hezbollah and allied Palestinian factions in Lebanon since the outbreak of Israel’s war against Hamas in Gaza.
Early Tuesday evening, a number of rockets were again launched toward the Western and Upper Galilee, setting off sirens in Kiryat Shmona and other communities. The IDF responded by shelling the source of the fire in southern Lebanon.
Several hours later, a suspected drone infiltration alarm sounded in several communities in the Western Galilee, while at the same time, incoming rocket sirens sounded in other border towns.
The IDF said later that it had launched interceptor missiles at a number of “suspicious aerial targets” — apparently drones — that entered Israeli airspace from Lebanon. It also struck an anti-tank missile launch position in southern Lebanon.
Lebanon’s pro-Hezbollah Al-Mayadeen television station claimed on Tuesday that two journalists and a civilian were killed in an Israeli strike, despite the IDF saying it had only struck Hezbollah targets.
The news outlet said that its “correspondent Farah Omar and cameraman Rabih Maamari were killed by an Israeli attack,” and the state-run National News Agency (NNA) alleged the same, adding that “the death of three citizens” was caused by “enemy bombing” in the Tair Harfa area.
Lebanon-based Al-Mayadeen mourns the deaths of its reporter Farah Omar and photographer Rabih al-Maamar.
They were killed in Israeli strike. pic.twitter.com/Frwt1yOIMe
— Clash Report (@clashreport) November 21, 2023
Al-Mayadeen director Ghassan bin Jiddo said that the third civilian killed with the two journalists was a “contributor” to the channel.
“It was a direct attack, it was not by chance,” bin Jiddo said in an interview on the channel, noting it came after an Israeli government decision this month to block access to Al-Mayadeen’s website after Communications Minister Shlomo Karhi determined that the broadcaster “serves the interest of Israel’s enemies.”
The Hezbollah terror group later claimed to have targeted the northern community of Menara with two anti-tank missiles in response to the deaths of the journalists and other civilians in apparent IDF strikes earlier.
Lebanese Information Minister Ziad Makary called the alleged strike on the journalists “outrageous.” Israel said that it was investigating the claims.
Elsewhere in southern Lebanon, the NNA reported that an “enemy aircraft raided inhabited houses in Kfar Kila, leading to the death of citizen Laiqa Sarhan, 80, and the wounding of her granddaughter,” whom the state-owned news agency identified as a Syrian national.
A source in the area’s Marjayoun hospital, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media, said the seven-year-old granddaughter was in serious condition.
The war against Hamas was triggered on October 7 when some 3,000 terrorists from Gaza burst through the border into southern Israel, massacring at least 1,200 people, most of them civilians, and taking some 240 hostages.
כלי טיס של צה"ל זיהו ותקפו לפני זמן קצר שלוש חוליות נ"ט במרחב גבול לבנון.
בנוסף, מטוסי קרב של צה"ל תקפו מספר מטרות טרור של ארגון הטרור חיזבאללה, ביניהן תשתיות צבאיות ותשתיות להכוונת טרור.
לפני זמן קצר מחבלים ירו פצצת מרגמה לעבר מוצב צה"ל במרחב גבול לבנון. אין נפגעים >> pic.twitter.com/NSTR3GKimM
— צבא ההגנה לישראל (@idfonline) November 21, 2023
In response, Israel launched an air campaign and subsequent ground offensive inside Gaza with the goal of eliminating the ruling terror group from the Strip and rescuing the hostages.
While Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah has declined to formally open a second front in the war, he has voiced support for the October 7 onslaught and subsequent war and has encouraged forces to drag it out “for as long as possible” to enable greater “resistance” against Israel.
Following the Hezbollah missile fire, Metula Mayor David Azoulay decried the situation on the northern front, where communities have been emptied due to the threat of war with Hezbollah.
“In effect, Israel has formed a security zone 5 kilometers south of the border,” Azoulay said according to Walla news, referencing the former “security zone” Israel once held in south Lebanon.
“I call on Israel to form a [security] zone of 4-5 kilometers north of the border,” instead of inside Israel, he added. “We are told that [Hezbollah leader Hassan] Nasrallah won’t start a war, but we’re already at war.”
On Sunday, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said that since October 7, Hezbollah has fired 1,000 munitions at Israel, and warned that Tehran is intensifying its attacks against the Jewish state.
“Iran is the root of hostility and aggression against the State of Israel. The war is multifront, even though its intensity is focused on Gaza,” Gallant said, and added that Hezbollah “pays a heavy price every day” as a result.
The persistent skirmishes between Israeli forces and Hezbollah have led to the widespread evacuations of Israeli residents, either state-mandated or self-imposed, of areas close to the Lebanon border, and residents of some 29 northern communities make up a substantial part of the estimated 200,000 internally displaced Israelis.
They have also resulted in three civilian deaths on the Israeli side, as well as the deaths of six IDF soldiers.
On the Lebanese side, more than 100 have been killed. The toll includes at least 77 Hezbollah members, 12 Palestinian terrorists, at least 14 civilians, and three journalists.