Australia investigating Hezbollah link of citizen killed in Israeli strike on Lebanon

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Australia on Thursday confirmed two of its citizens were killed in an Israeli airstrike in south Lebanon and said it was looking at Hezbollah’s claims that one of the Australian citizens killed had links to the militant group.

“We will continue to make inquiries about this particular person, with whom Hezbollah has claimed links,” Acting Foreign Minister Mark Dreyfus said during a media briefing.

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“Hezbollah has claimed this Australian as one of its fighters. Our inquiries are continuing.”

Hezbollah, a Lebanese militant group backed by Iran, is a “listed terrorist organization” in Australia and it is an offence for any Australian to provide it with financial support or fight in its ranks, Dreyfus said.

A Lebanese-Australian man, his wife, and his brother, who was a member of Hezbollah, were killed in the Israeli attack, Lebanese security and local sources told Reuters on Wednesday.

The strike late on Tuesday, part of a flare-up of border area hostilities between Israel and Hezbollah, hit a home in the town of Bint Jbeil where the militants enjoy widespread support.

Dreyfus said the Australian government had reached out to Israel about the attacks but declined to disclose what was discussed.

He urged Australians in Lebanon to leave the country while commercial flight options remained available.

Hezbollah, an ally of Palestinian militant faction Hamas, has been exchanging near-daily fire with Israel across Lebanon’s southern frontier since the eruption of the Israeli-Hamas war in Gaza in early October.

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