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Israeli strike kills Hamas official in south Lebanon

As the border escalation between Hezbollah and Israel flares, another Hamas figure has been killed in an Israeli drone strike in south Lebanon.
Firefighters douse a burning car after it was hit in an Israeli strike in Lebanon's southern area of Tyre on March 13, 2024, amid ongoing cross-border tensions as fighting continues between Israel and Palestinian Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip.

BEIRUT — A Hamas official was killed when an Israeli drone strike struck his car in southern Lebanon on Wednesday, the latest movement figure to be targeted in the country since the Israel-Hamas war erupted in October.

The attack, which occurred on the Tyre-Naqoura road, also claimed the life of a Syrian man who was passing through on his motorcycle at the time, according to the official National News Agency. Two other people were injured.

Hamas’ military wing in Lebanon, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, confirmed the death of Hadi Mustafa, a Hamas member based in the Rashidieh Palestinian refugee camp, about five kilometers south of the city of Tyre.

A Hamas source told Reuters that Mustafa was not a senior figure of the movement.

The Israeli military confirmed that it had "eliminated" Hadi Mustafa. In a post on X, it said Mustafa was responsible for "advancing Hamas' international activity and terrorist attacks against Jewish and Israeli targets.”

The latest incident comes as tensions have flared on the Lebanon-Israel border, where the powerful Iran-backed Hezbollah has been exchanging heavy fire with the Israeli military in support of Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

Hamas, which has a significant presence in Lebanon, has occasionally claimed responsibility for rocket attacks launched toward northern Israel in the past months. In late February, al-Qassam Brigades said it fired 40 Grad rockets from Lebanese territory at Israeli military positions near Kiryat Shmona.

Hamas and Hezbollah are both backed by Iran. Several Hamas officials are based in Beirut.

In January Hamas' deputy political head, Saleh al-Arouri, along with six other Hamas members including two from its military wing were killed in an apparent Israeli drone strike that hit a building where Palestinian factions were meeting in the Dahiyeh district south of Beirut, a major Hezbollah stronghold.

Another Hamas official reported to have been the target of an Israeli airstrike near the Lebanese southern city of Sidon in early February survived the attack. Three other people were killed, including a Hezbollah operative.

Several sources told Reuters at the time that the official was close to Arouri.

The Times of Israel identified the official as Basel Salah, who is a member of Hamas unit in charge of recruitment. According to the Israeli paper, the unit was headed by Azzam al-Aqraa, who was among those killed in the January attack in Dahiyeh.

The cross-border hostilities between Israel and Hezbollah have killed more than 220 Hezbollah fighters and nearly 40 civilians in Lebanon since October, according to an Agence France-Presse tally.

On the Israeli side, nine soldiers and 10 civilians have been killed, according to the Israeli military.