Israeli drone strike kills two people in southern Lebanon

Israeli drone strike kills two people in southern Lebanon
The attack follows days of heightened tensions as Israeli jets strike deeper into Lebanese territory and Hezbollah responds with large rocket salvos.
3 min read
13 March, 2024
Firefighters douse a burning car after it was hit in an Israeli drone attack in Lebanon's southern area of Tyre [Getty]

Two people were killed and several injured when an Israeli drone strike hit a car on Wednesday near Lebanon’s southern city of Tyre, following a surge in cross-border attacks between Israeli forces and Hezbollah.

The drone attack struck a car along the Naqoura-Tyre highway, less than 25 kilometres from the Israeli border. Footage shared by local media showed a vehicle burning intensely with its parts strewn across the road as emergency services rushed to the scene.

One of the dead was reported to be low-ranking Hamas member Hadi Mustafa from the nearby Palestinian refugee camp Rashidieh, according to Reuters. A second man travelling on a motorbike next to the strike was also killed.

In an apparent targeted attack, Mustafa was killed while the car was travelling on the Al-Housh junction north of Rashidieh and south of Tyre, an area patrolled by the United Nations peacekeeping force in Lebanon, known as UNIFIL.

A UNIFIL vehicle on the road watching the incident could be seen in an image shared by Lebanese newspaper Al-Akhbar.

In another video, a backlog of cars could be seen piling up with crowds gathered near the burning vehicle. Civil defence teams could be seen hosing down the debris and paramedics treating the wounded.

According to the Al Jazeera network who spoke to a Lebanese security source, the intended target of the drone strike was a Palestinian.

Thousands of ’48 Palestinians live in refugee camps around the southern cities, including the Rashidieh and El-Buss camp, where factions including Hamas operate.

Since October, cross-border fire between Iran-backed Hezbollah and Israel has been largely contained to territory south of the Litani River, around the UN designated ‘Blue Line’ which marks the border.

But in recent days tensions have risen with Israeli jets dropping shells further inside Lebanese territory, sparking fears of an all-out war.

The Bekaa Valley, around 100 kilometres from the border, was struck four times throughout Monday and Tuesday, killing three and injuring several civilians.

A strike on Monday in the Baalbek-Hermel district hit a timber warehouse and another close by hit a residential building in the village of Nabi Chit on Tuesday.

In response, Hezbollah said on Tuesday it fired "more than a hundred Katyusha rockets" at two military bases in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.

While ceasefire talks around a cessation in fighting between Hamas and Israel push on, officials have alluded that such a truce would not automatically extend to Lebanon.

Since hostilities between Hamas ally Hezbollah and Israeli forces broke out on October 8, at least 319 people, mainly Hezbollah fighters but also 54 civilians, have been killed in Lebanon, according to AFP.