Sorrow, fury at funeral of Lebanese civilians killed by Israeli airstrike
Hundreds gathered on Tuesday in the Lebanese border town of Blida for the funerals of four civilians, a grandmother and her three granddaughters, who were killed by an Israeli drone strike on the night of Sunday, 5 November.
The family was killed while driving away from the border town – a Blida town official and friend of the family told The New Arab that the family stopped the car when they heard an Israeli drone above them and had the children play outside so that it was clear that they were civilians.
Regardless, the drone hit the car, killing four and injuring two other family members.
Funeralgoers railed against Israel, with town residents and Hezbollah officials present decrying what they called "Israeli war crimes" in both Lebanon and Gaza.
As residents hoisted the coffin of the first little girl and began the funeral procession, cries of "death to Israel!" punctuated lamentations.
"There are innocents that were killed by Israeli aggression; they have inflamed hearts all across Lebanon. Where is the international community?" Ali Fayyad, a Hezbollah-aligned MP, said at the funeral.
The killing of the four civilians on Sunday was the first test of the equation Hezbollah Nasrallah put out in his speech on 3 November, where he vowed "a civilian for a civilian."
After the targeting, Hezbollah and its Palestinian allies let off a salvo of rockets into Israel, using Grad rockets for the first time to hit the northern Israeli city of Kiryat Shmona on Monday.
Saraya al-Quds, a Palestinian faction, also launched missiles 40 kilometres into Israel, the deepest that any rockets launched from Lebanon have reached since the beginning of hostilities on 8 October.
Israeli authorities or media have reported no further Israeli civilian casualties since Sunday.
What are the rules of engagement?
The town of Blida was heavily affected during the 2006 war between Hezbollah and Israel, particularly by the latter's use of cluster munitions.
Cluster munitions – banned by most countries – indiscriminately drop up to hundreds of bombs over a wide area, some of which can explode up to years or decades later.
The remnants of the 2006 war remain fresh in the minds of Blida's residents, but still, the town residents are determined to stay on their land, the town mukhtar, Slmein Marjeh, told TNA at the funeral.
"All of Blida is with the resistance. Israel is weaker than us, and evidenced by the fact that they are hitting civilians," Marjeh says, rolling up his sleeve to show his arm, a chunk removed by an Israeli cluster bomb in 2006.
While Israeli bombing has mostly remained on the outskirts of the village so far, unlike in 2006, the changing rules of engagement have sowed confusion and fear among the residents.
"2006 was harder as there was no respect for civilians. But now, we are not sure of the 'equation' between Israel and Hezbollah. But, whatever [Nasrallah] says must be implemented, so it should be a 'civilian for a civilian,'"a Blida town official who preferred to remain anonymous told TNA.
However, not all attending the funeral had their eyes fixed on revenge but were instead consumed by grief.
A classmate of Layan, a 10-year-old girl killed in the airstrike, collapsed to her knees while sobbing at the funeral.
"They were just children," Layan's classmate said, struggling through her tears.
Other family members and friends paid their condolences in front of the wreaths placed upon the freshly buried graves.
One of the wreaths was sent by the elementary school the three girls attended in the nearby town of Ayn al-Ebel.