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Israeli strikes in Lebanon kill journalists and senior Hamas official

BEIRUT, Nov 21 (Reuters) – Separate Israeli strikes on southern Lebanon on Tuesday killed eight people, including two journalists working for a Lebanese television channel and a senior Hamas official, according to Lebanese state media and sources official.

These deaths bring to more than 80 the number of people killed in Lebanon since the start of hostilities along the border, most of them fighters from the Lebanese armed group Hezbollah.

Violence erupted along the border following the Hamas attack on October 7. Israel and Iran-backed Hezbollah – a Hamas ally – have exchanged rocket fire in increasingly escalating fighting.

Lebanese television channel Al Mayadeen said an Israeli strike Tuesday near the town of Tir Harfa, about a kilometer from the Israeli border, killed two of its journalists and a third person at the site where they were filming.

Al Mayadeen accused Israel of deliberately targeting the television crew because the channel was known to be a pro-Palestinian and pro-Iranian regional military alliance.

Lebanon’s caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati said in a statement that the strike was an Israeli attempt to silence the media, adding that there were “no limits to Israeli crimes.”

The Israeli military said it was “aware of an allegation regarding journalists… who were killed as a result of (Israeli army) fire.”

“This is an area where hostilities are active, where exchanges of fire are taking place. Presence in the area is dangerous,” he added.

The Israeli military has previously said it cannot guarantee the safety of journalists in areas where it is fighting. Israeli authorities have sought to block Al Mayadeen’s websites and seize equipment linked to the channel.

Hezbollah said it responded to the killing of the journalists by firing on an Israeli base across the border.

Another Israeli strike on a car about 11 km from the border and near the southern city of Tire killed four people later in the day, Lebanese state media reported.

Hamas identified a 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 high-ranking member of Hamas’ military wing in Lebanon.

An elderly woman was also killed in an Israeli strike on Tuesday morning, according to Lebanese state media.

Violence on the Israeli-Lebanese border has intensified in recent days, raising fears of a broader war in the Middle East that could draw in both the United States and Iran.

It is the worst violence on the border since the 2006 war between Israel and Hezbollah which has so far killed more than 70 Hezbollah fighters, 13 Lebanese civilians, seven Israeli soldiers and three Israeli civilians.

Tuesday’s deaths add to the toll of more than 50 journalists killed covering the war between Israel and Hamas and its impact on other parts of the region since October 7, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists.

Issam Abdallah, a Reuters visual journalist, was killed in southern Lebanon on October 13.

Al Mayadeen named the killed journalists as correspondent Farah Omar and cameraman Rabie al-Memari. The third person killed was Hussein Aqil. Al Mayadeen told Reuters he did not work with the channel.

Reporting by John Davison, Jana Choukeir and Maya Gebeily; Editing by Alex Richardson, Nick Macfie and Alistair Bell

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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