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Hizbollah says Israeli attacks on Lebanon civilians to be ‘reciprocated’

BEIRUT: Lebanon’s powerful Hizbollah movement on Monday vowed any Israeli attacks on civilians “will be reciprocated”, after an Israeli strike hit a building opposite a funeral procession for one of the group’s fighters.

The frontier between Lebanon and Israel has seen regular exchanges of fire, mainly between the Israeli army and Hamas ally Hizbollah, since the conflict in the Gaza Strip began on October 7.

The Iran-backed group on Monday evening said they launched a “salvo of rockets” at the Israeli border town of Kiryat Shmona “in response to the enemy’s targeting of the funeral in Aita al-Shaab”, a Lebanese border town.

“Any harm to civilians will be reciprocated,” the group added in a statement.

Lebanon’s official National News Agency had earlier reported that Israel “targeted people who were participating in the funeral procession” of Hizbollah fighter Hassan Srur in Aita al-Shaab.

The strike hit a building less than 40 metres (130 feet) from the procession, causing damage but no casualties, the agency said, adding that “the Israeli enemy was trying to intimidate hundreds” of mourners, who nonetheless continued with the ceremony.

An AFP correspondent who later arrived at the scene said the strike hit the top of an uninhabited building.

Not long after, artillery shells also fell near the funeral procession for another Hizbollah fighter in Beit Lif, a few kilometres further north, the correspondent said.

Shortly after the strikes, Hizbollah said it had fired artillery at two launchpads from Israel’s Iron Dome air defence system.

The Gaza war began with the unprecedented Hamas attack on Israel on October 7 that killed 1,139 people, according to an AFP tally based on Israeli figures.

Its retaliatory ground and air offensive has killed more than 19,450 in Gaza, according to the Hamas-run healthy ministry.

It has also raised fears of a regional conflagration.

More than 130 people have been killed by Israeli strikes in Lebanon, mostly Hizbollah fighters but also a Lebanese soldier and 17 civilians, including three journalists, according to an AFP tally.

Hizbollah said Sunday that three of its members had been killed, without specifying where or when.

On the Israeli side, four civilians and seven soldiers have been killed, according to officials.

Iran-backed Hizbollah says it is acting in support of Hamas, while residents of south Lebanon say Israel’s retaliatory bombardments have increased in intensity.

French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna was meeting with senior officials in Beirut on Monday, a day after visiting Israel and the occupied West Bank, as part of efforts to de-escalate the situation on the border.

Source: New Straits Times

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