Israel Palestine Conflict

Two Israeli airstrikes hit near south Lebanon city of Sidon

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Two Israeli air strikes hit southern Lebanon Monday near the city of Sidon, wounding 14 people, official media said, while the Israeli army said it had targeted “Hezbollah weapons storage facilities”.

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.

“Israeli warplanes carried out ... strikes on the town of Ghaziyeh,” the state-run National News Agency (NNA) said Monday, adding that a vehicle was targeted and ambulances rushed to the scene, without providing further details.

Israel’s chief military spokesperson said that Israeli forces struck weapons depots near Sidon in southern Lebanon in response to a drone launched into Israel by Hezbollah.

“We located an unmanned aerial vehicle from Hezbollah near Tiberias, which apparently crossed today and crashed near Tiberias. In response to this activity, we attacked weapons depots near Sidon,” Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari told a televised news briefing.

While most of the exchanges have been limited to areas near the frontier, Monday’s strikes occurred in Ghaziyeh, about 30 kilometres (20 miles) from the nearest Israeli boundary and less than five kilometres from the city of Sidon.

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An AFP photographer reported the sound of at least two successive strikes in Ghaziyeh, one targeting a hangar close to the main coastal highway, with dark smoke billowing across the area.

Lebanon’s state-run National News Agency (NNA) said the strikes targeted a warehouse where tires and electricity generators were manufactured, and the vicinity of a factory, leaving “14 wounded, most of them Syrian and Palestinian workers”.

It said two emergency responders were injured while putting out the warehouse blaze.

One of the strikes targeted a factory “in an industrial area of Ghaziyeh, wounding at least eight workers”, seven of them Syrians, a Lebanese security source, requesting anonymity as they were not authorised to speak to the media, said earlier.

The Israeli army said in a statement that “the strike was carried out in response to the launch of a UAV (drone) toward the Lower Galilee in northern Israel,” adding that the drone was likely launched by Hezbollah earlier in the day.

Video circulating on social media showed large plumes of smoke arising from at least two strikes.

‘Provocative’

Hezbollah, which says it is acting in support of Hamas in the Gaza Strip, on Monday claimed several attacks on Israeli positions, without mentioning a drone.

The Shia Muslim movement did not immediately release any official statement on the Ghaziyeh strikes.

Lebanon’s foreign ministry urged the international community to condemn the “ongoing” Israeli attacks and to pressure Israel “to stop its provocative attempts... to lure Lebanon into a war that (Beirut) is seeking to prevent”.

The Israeli military last week said it killed a Hezbollah commander, his deputy and another fighter in a strike in the southern Lebanese city of Nabatiyeh.

In the bloodiest day for Lebanon since tensions rose in October, the strike on a residential building also killed seven members of the same family, according to a security source, while another strike elsewhere killed a woman, her child and stepchild.

On Friday, Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah vowed that Israel would pay “with blood” for civilians it killed in Lebanon in recent days.

He said the killing of civilians was aimed at “putting pressure” on Hezbollah to stop attacks on Israel, and warned that his Iran-backed movement has “precision-guided missiles that can reach... Eilat”, on Israel’s Red Sea coast, well beyond the northern towns it usually targets.

The latest uptick in violence has caused international alarm, with fears growing of another full-blown war between Israel and Hezbollah like that in 2006.

Since October, cross-border exchanges have killed at least 269 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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