Israeli strike in Lebanon kills three, including two reporters, says PM
PHOTO CAPTION: Ambulances carrying the bodies of the two journalists of Lebanon-based Al Mayadeen TV channel, who it says were killed by an Israeli strike, are parked outside the channel's building, in Beirut, Lebanon November 21, 2023. REUTERS/Mohamed Azakir
BEIRUT (Reuters) -An Israeli strike killed two journalists working for a Lebanese TV channel and a third person near the border with Israel on Tuesday, Lebanese state media and the channel, Al Mayadeen, said.
The deaths add to a toll of more than 50 journalists killed covering the war between Israel and Hamas and its spillover to other parts of the region since Oct. 7, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists.
Most of those have been killed in the Gaza Strip, which Israel bombarded and invaded after Palestinian militant group Hamas waged a deadly assault against Israelis.
Violence along Lebanon's border with Israel broke out after Hamas's Oct. 7 attack. Israel and Iran-backed Lebanese group Hezbollah - a Hamas ally - have fired rockets at each other in fighting that has steadily escalated.
Al Mayadeen said the Israeli strike on Tuesday near the town of Tir Harfa, about a mile from the Israeli frontier, had deliberately targeted the TV crew because the channel was known to be pro-Palestinian and pro-Iran's regional military alliance.
Lebanon's caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati said in a statement that the strike was an Israeli attempt to silence the media, adding there were "no limits to Israeli crimes".
Israel's military said it was "aware of a claim regarding journalists ... who were killed as a result of (Israeli army) fire.
"This is an area with active hostilities, where exchange of fire occur. Presence in the area is dangerous," it said.
The Israeli military has previously said it cannot guarantee journalists' safety in areas where it is fighting.
A second Israeli strike on a car about seven miles (11 km) from the border and near the southern Lebanese city of Tyre killed four people later in the day, the state news agency reported. It did not give details.
Hezbollah said it had retaliated over the killing of the journalists by firing at an Israeli base across the border.
Fighting between Israel and Hezbollah broke out along the border after Hamas launched its attack on Israel on Oct. 7.
The Hamas attack killed 1,200 Israelis, according to Israeli tallies. Israel in response has bombarded and invaded the Gaza Strip, killing at least 13,300 people according to the Hamas-run Gaza government.
Israel-Lebanon border violence has escalated, raising Western fears of a widening war in the Middle East that could draw in both the United States and Iran.
It is the worst violence at the border since Israel and Hezbollah fought a war in 2006 and has so far killed more than 70 Hezbollah fighters, 13 Lebanese civilians, seven Israeli troops and three Israeli civilians.
Al Mayadeen named its killed journalists as Farah Omar, a correspondent, and Rabie al-Memari, a camera operator.
The third person killed in the strike was Hussein Aqil, who was at the site where the crew was filming. Al Mayadeen told Reuters he was not working with the channel.
(Reporting by John Davison, Jana Choukeir; Editing by Andrew Heavens, Alex Richardson and Nick Macfie)