Three killed in Lebanon as fighting intensifies between Israel and Hezbollah
Cross-border fighting between Israel and Hezbollah intensified on Tuesday night and Wednesday morning, with exchanges of shelling leaving several dead in Lebanon and others wounded on the Israeli side.
Three Lebanese were killed by an Israeli airstrike in the border town of Bint Jbeil late on Tuesday night, with videos showing a home completely demolished.
Emergency services managed to uncover the bodies of the three killed and found that two of them were civilians, Ibrahim Bazzi and his wife Shorouq Hammoud, while the third was identified as Hezbollah member Ali Bazzi.
Ibrahim had reportedly come to Lebanon a few days prior to bring his wife Shorouq with him to his home in Australia, before he was killed in Tuesday's airstrike.
Earlier on Tuesday, the Israeli military said that an anti-tank fired by Hezbollah had wounded nine soldiers. On Wednesday, Israel's Army Radio announced that 18 rockets were fired from the Lebanese border area of Naqoura, with 8 of them being intercepted.
Israel retaliated by shelling a number of points along the Lebanese border, as well as conducting low-flying flights over the capital-city Beirut, disturbing residents.
More than 150 people have been killed by Israel in Lebanon since border clashes began on 8 October, including more than a dozen civilians. Israel has announced the death of four civilians and nine soldiers, though Hezbollah has claimed that it has killed and wounded more.
The frequency and intensity of cross-border clashes have steadily increased over the last eleven weeks, prompting concern that a full scale war could break out between Israel and Hezbollah as the former pursues its indiscriminate war on Gaza, which has so far killed over 21,000 Palestinians.
On 24 December, Hezbollah central council member Nabil Qaouk said that "targeting civilians is a red line for [Hezbollah], and its decision is to make [Israel] pay the painful price for any crossing of this line."
The majority of civilians – 80,000 – living in the northern border areas of Israel have evacuated for fear of being targeted by Hezbollah's rockets.
Israel has since demanded that Hezbollah withdraw its forces completely from the area south of the Litani river, about 30 kilometres away from the border. Residents of northern Israel have said they do not feel safe returning to their homes unless Hezbollah is removed from the two countries' shared border.
Hezbollah has said that it will not engage in any negotiations over its presence in the south of Lebanon until Israel's war on Gaza stops.
Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah is scheduled to speak on Wednesday evening, where it is expected he will address the escalation in hostilities and border negotiations with Israel.