Hezbollah says Israel will ‘pay price’ after deadly day

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An airstrike in one Lebanese village was said to have killed four children and three adults.
An airstrike in one Lebanese village was said to have killed four children and three adults.

Hezbollah says Israel will pay “the price” for killing 10 people including five children in southern Lebanon, the deadliest day for Lebanese civilians in four months of hostilities across the Lebanese-Israeli border.

An Israeli strike killed seven people in the city of Nabatieh late on Wednesday, including three children, sources in Lebanon said. It followed an earlier attack that killed a woman and her two children in the village of al-Sawana at the border.

“The enemy will pay the price for these crimes,” Hezbollah politician Hassan Fadlallah told Reuters on Thursday. “The resistance will continue to practice its legitimate right to defend its people.”

Several of the armed Lebanese group’s fighters were also killed in separate strikes on Wednesday, including on Nabatieh, according to the group and security sources.

Asked about the Nabatieh strike, a spokesperson for the Israeli army said on Thursday it was waiting for further information “on this event but we will update when we know further details”.

The conflict between Iran-backed Hezbollah and Israel has played out in parallel to the Gaza war, fuelling concern about the risk of an all-out confrontation between the heavily armed adversaries.

Both sides have said they do not seek all-out war, and the conflict has largely been contained to areas near the border.

A source familiar with Hezbollah thinking said the attack on Nabatieh marked an Israeli escalation but was still within unwritten “rules of engagement”.

A damanged building in Nabatieh
More than 200 people in Lebanon have been killed in shelling in the past four months. (EPA PHOTO)

Israel said on Wednesday it had responded to cross-border rocket fire from Lebanon which had killed one of its soldiers and hospitalised eight others in the city of Safed, about 15km from the Lebanese border.

Hezbollah did not declare responsibility for that attack.

Hezbollah has been waging near daily attacks on Israeli targets at the border since its Palestinian ally Hamas stormed Israel from Gaza on October 7, killing 1200 people and abducting some 250, according to Israeli tallies.

Hezbollah has said its campaign will stop only when Israel halts its offensive on the Gaza Strip, where more than 28,000 people have been killed, according to health authorities in Hamas-run Gaza.

The Lebanese civil defence said three children were killed in the Nabatieh strike. It had initially put the number of children killed at four, but later clarified that one of them was still alive.

Lebanon’s caretaker prime minister, Najib Mikati, condemned the strikes and instructed his foreign minister, Abdallah Bou Habib, to register a new complaint at the United Nations Security Council over them.

The violence has uprooted tens of thousands of people on both sides of the frontier.

Israeli Defence Minister Yoav Gallant discussed ongoing “threats and attacks conducted by Hezbollah in Lebanon” with US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin overnight, according to a statement from Gallant’s office.

“Minister Gallant reiterated his commitment to ensuring security on the northern border and the safe return of displaced citizens – whether it be via diplomatic channels or military action,” the statement said.

The cross-border shelling has already killed more than 200 people in Lebanon, including more than 170 Hezbollah fighters, as well as around a dozen Israeli troops and five Israeli civilians. 

Reuters