Israeli strike kills Lebanese soldier

A Lebanese soldier was killed by Israeli fire on a military post near the country’s southern border Tuesday, the army said, the first such death since cross-border hostilities began in October.

The Lebanon-Israel border has seen intensifying exchanges of fire since the war broke out between Hamas and Israel, mainly involving Iran-backed Hezbollah, raising fears of a broader conflagration.

“An army military position in the… Adaysseh area was bombarded by the Israeli enemy, leaving one soldier martyred and three others injured,” the Lebanese army said in a statement.

Israel’s army acknowledged the incident, saying in a post on X, formerly Twitter, that it had targeted a Hezbollah position in an effort “to eliminate an imminent threat”.

“The Lebanese Armed Forces were not the target of the strike,” the Israel Defense Forces said, adding it regretted the incident.

Later Tuesday, Israeli shelling killed a Syrian labourer when it hit the chicken farm where he worked, according to Lebanon’s National News Agency (NNA) and a local official.

Israel shelled and carried out air strikes on southern Lebanon, while Hezbollah claimed attacks on Israeli positions, NNA said.

More than 110 people have been killed on the Lebanese side since October, mostly Hezbollah fighters and more than a dozen civilians, according to an AFP tally.

Israel says six of its soldiers and three Israeli civilians have been killed.

The United Nations peacekeeping mission (UNIFIL) says its headquarters in southern Lebanon has been hit by shelling several times.

Commenting on the Lebanese soldier’s death, UNIFIL said in a statement: “The Lebanese Armed Forces have not engaged in conflict with Israel.

During the last days, we have seen a rapid and alarming increase in violence,” UNIFIL added, urging an end to “the cycle of violence, which could lead to devastating consequences for people on both sides.”

Hezbollah, an Iran-backed Shiite Muslim group, has not had a visible military presence on Lebanon’s southern border since the end of a 2006 conflict with Israel, but says it resumed activities in support of Hamas after its October 7 attack on Israel.

Lebanese peacekeepers have a presence on the border as part of the UN Security Council Resolution which ended the 2006 war.

Earlier Tuesday, caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati said in a statement that UN-sponsored talks were planned in the coming months, aimed at “reaching an agreement, via the UN, about contested points along the border with the Israeli enemy”.

“We hope that in the next three months we will reach a stage of total stability on our borders,” Mikati added.

The cross-border exchanges of fire began after Hamas’s assault on Israel on October 7, which killed some 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and saw about 240 taken hostage, according to Israeli officials.

In response, Israel vowed to eliminate the militant group and unleashed an air and ground campaign that authorities in Hamas-run Gaza say has killed more than 16,240 people, also mostly civilians.

Culled from AFP