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Senior Hamas official in Lebanon survives Israeli strike: sources

Senior Hamas official in Lebanon survives attempted assassination by Israeli drone
3 min read
11 February, 2024
An Israeli drone raid that hit a car 35km (22 miles) from the Lebanese capital, Beirut, has killed at least two people, but a Hamas official who was the target
An AFP photographer at the scene saw a damaged car and a charred motorcycle nearby, with bloodstains all over the site of the strike near the beach [Getty]

Israeli strikes on Lebanon on Saturday killed two civilians and a Hezbollah member, officials said, while security sources told AFP a senior Hamas officer had survived an assassination attempt south of Beirut.

An Israeli drone strike killed one person and wounded nine others in the southern border village of Hula, Lebanon's official National News Agency (NNA) said.

Israeli forces and the Lebanese movement Hezbollah have traded near-daily fire since Israel's war on Gaza Strip began on 7 October.

A source close to Hezbollah told AFP the person killed in Hula was not a member of the group.

Hula mayor Shakib Koteish said the fatality was a civilian killed when his home, facing a local mosque, was hit.

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While the Israel-Lebanon violence has been largely contained to the border area, a strike earlier on Saturday hit the coastal town of Jadra, about 40 kilometres (25 miles) from the closest point in Israel.

The second-farthest deadly attack from the border in four months of hostilities "was a failed attempt to assassinate a senior official in the (Hamas) movement", a Palestinian security source said, requesting anonymity for security concerns.

The NNA reported it was an Israeli drone strike.

A Lebanese security official, also requesting anonymity, identified the target as Hamas recruitment officer Bassel Saleh.

Shortly after the initial strike on Saleh's car, a second Israeli drone hit the same location, killing two people, the official said.

Hezbollah said one of its members had died.

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Saleh "survived but suffered burns on his back and was admitted to hospital", the Lebanese official said.

The official added Saleh is "in charge of a recruitment unit in the West Bank", occupied by Israel since 1967.

A Hamas official in Lebanon told AFP that no member of the group had been killed in the Jadra attack.

An official with the Lebanese Risala Scout Association, which operates rescue teams and is affiliated with the Hezbollah-allied Amal movement, told AFP that two civilians had been killed.

But Hezbollah later announced one of its members had been killed by Israeli fire. A source close to the group told AFP the man, Khalil Fares, was one of the two people killed in his town of Jadra.

There was no immediate comment from Israel.

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An AFP photographer at the scene saw a damaged car and a charred motorcycle nearby, with bloodstains all over the site of the strike near the beach.

On Saturday, the NNA reported several Israeli strikes on south Lebanon villages, with Hezbollah also claiming attacks on Israeli positions across the border.

Hezbollah in a statement also said it "took control of an Israeli enemy Skylark drone".

Cross-border fire since 8 October has killed at least 230 people in Lebanon, including at least 28 civilians.

On Thursday, an Israeli drone strike seriously wounded a Hezbollah commander in southern Lebanon, with the group later firing a salvo of rockets into northern Israel.

In January, a strike widely attributed to Israel killed Hamas's deputy leader Saleh al-Aruri in Hezbollah's south Beirut stronghold - the most high-profile Hamas figure to be killed during the war.