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Israeli strikes on Lebanon kill 8 including 2 journalists: media

A Lebanese rescuer holds the bullet proof vest of one of two journalists working for Al-Mayadeen television killed in Israeli bombardment of southern Lebanon
— Beirut (AFP)

Israeli bombardment of south Lebanon on Tuesday killed eight people, official media said, including two journalists from Beirut-based Al-Mayadeen television, the broadcaster reported, in ongoing violence at the Lebanon-Israel border.

Since the Israel-Hamas war began on October 7, the frontier between Lebanon and Israel has seen escalating exchanges of fire, mainly between Israel and the Iran-backed Hezbollah movement, but also Palestinian groups, raising fears of a broader conflagration.

The state-run National News Agency (NNA) reported "the deaths of three citizens -- two journalists and another civilian -- in enemy bombing" of the Tair Harfa area.

Al-Mayadeen said its correspondent Farah Omar, 25, and cameraman Rabih Maamari, 40, were killed.

Lebanon's army also said the trio were killed in "enemy bombing".

Colleagues of the Al-Mayadeen journalists mourn at the channel's building in Beirut

Israel's military said "soldiers operated against a threat" from a Hezbollah "launching area" in the area of Jebbayn, near Tair Harfa.

"We are aware of a claim regarding journalists in the area who were killed as a result of IDF (army) fire. This is an area with active hostilities, where exchanges of fire occur... The incident is under review," it said.

Al-Mayadeen director Ghassan bin Jiddo said the third civilian killed with the journalists collaborated with the channel.

"It was a direct attack, it was not by chance," Bin Jiddo said in an interview, noting it came after an Israeli government decision this month to block access to the website of Al-Mayadeen, known for its pro-Iran stance.

- Car targeted -

Elsewhere in south Lebanon, the NNA said "enemy aircraft raided inhabited houses in Kfar Kila, leading to the death of citizen Laiqa Sarhan, 80, and the wounding of her granddaughter", a Syrian national.

According to the Committee to Protect Journalists at least 53 journalists and media workers have been killed in the Hamas-Israel war: 46 Palestinians, four Israelis and three Lebanese

Hezbollah, a Hamas ally, said that "in response" to the attacks, its fighters targeted Israeli forces with guided missiles and a "military base" with Grad-type Katyusha rockets.

The NNA also reported that "the Israeli enemy attacked" a car between Qlaileh and Shaaytiyeh in south Lebanon, killing four people.

An official from the nearby Rashidiyeh Palestinian refugee camp, requesting anonymity as they were not authorised to speak to the media, said one of the dead was Khalil al-Kharraz, a senior leader in Hamas's military wing in Lebanon.

Hamas official Khalil Hayya condemned the strike on the car, without elaborating on who was killed, and told a Beirut press conference the group would issue a detailed statement Wednesday after an investigation.

A security source told AFP on condition of anonymity that the bodies were badly charred.

- 'No limit' -

Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati expressed his "strong condemnation of the Israeli attack" on the journalists.

"This attack proves once more that Israeli crimes know no limit and that (Israel's) aim is to silence the media who expose its crimes and its attacks," Mikati was quoted as saying in a statement.

US State Department spokesman Matthew Miller said that "we are concerned by the reports that civilians including two journalists were killed in Lebanon".

"We have made clear we don't want to see the conflict in Gaza spread to Lebanon. That has been one of our top priorities," he told reporters in Washington.

Since the cross-border exchanges began, at least 100 people have been killed on the Lebanese side, according to an AFP tally, most of them Hezbollah combatants but including at least 14 civilians, three of them journalists.

On the Israeli side, six soldiers and three civilians have been killed, according to authorities.

On October 13, Reuters journalist Issam Abdallah was killed and six other journalists from AFP, Al Jazeera and Reuters wounded while covering cross-border fire.

Lebanese authorities have accused Israel of responsibility. The Israeli army said it was looking into the circumstances of the fatal strike.