As cross-border clashes intensified between Israel and the armed group Hezbollah, three people, including two television journalists, were killed in an Israeli strike on Tuesday in southern Lebanon, Lebanese officials said.
The Lebanese military and Lebanon’s caretaker prime minister blamed Israel for the attack. The Israeli military said the episode was under review, adding that its soldiers were responding to a Hezbollah threat and that they subsequently became aware of reports that journalists in the area had been killed by Israeli forces.
Al-Mayadeen, a pan-Arab network based in Beirut, said in a statement that Farah Omar, a reporter, and Rabih Al-Maamari, a cameraman, were killed in the attack. A third civilian was also killed in the strike, which took place about four miles from the Israeli border near the Lebanese town of Tayr Harfa, according to Lebanon’s state-run news agency.
The journalists were killed shortly after a live broadcast, Al-Mayadeen said. A video filmed by Mohammed Zinati, a reporter with the local media organization Sawt Beirut, and a photograph of the immediate aftermath showed three bodies lying beside a shallow crater and shrapnel damage to a nearby tree and wall.
Marc Garlasco, a former Pentagon senior intelligence analyst who reviewed the images, told The New York Times that a small hole visible inside a crater and the damage to the tree and wall was “prototypical of a Spike NLOS crater,” a weapon fired only by Israel’s military and not Lebanese forces, he said. “The small cubic fragments in the tree are exactly what I look for,” Mr. Garlasco said.
Lebanon’s caretaker prime minister, Najib Mikati, blamed Israel for the killings, saying in a statement: “This attack proves once again that there are no limits to Israel’s crimes.”
Hezbollah, the powerful Lebanese militia, said it retaliated swiftly to the strike by targeting Israeli soldiers with guided missiles and by hitting an Israeli military base with Grad rockets.
The Lebanese militant group also claimed responsibility for a separate missile attack on a factory in northern Israel belonging to Rafael Advanced Defense Systems, a weapons maker owned by Israel’s Defense Ministry. The militia said it was in response to an Israeli airstrike last week that the country’s military said targeted an “advanced” surface-to-air missile system that had downed an Israeli drone.
The Israeli military said that there were “a number of launches from Lebanon,” but offered no specifics.
Casualties are mounting on both sides of the border, which has grown increasingly volatile since Hamas — which, like Hezbollah, is backed by Iran — carried out its devastating terror attacks against Israel on Oct. 7. Israel has responded with airstrikes and a ground invasion of Gaza, and Hezbollah has stepped up its cross-border attacks in solidarity with Hamas, raising fears of a wider regional conflict.
On Monday, Hezbollah claimed responsibility for a powerful cross-border rocket attack on an Israeli military base, prompting a sustained Israeli response that targeted Hezbollah positions, but also caused heavy damage to civilian homes, according to photographs verified by The New York Times.
Also Tuesday, an Israeli strike killed a woman in the southern village of Kfar Kila, and four other people traveling in a car near the southern city of Tyre, according to Lebanon’s state-run news agency.
The chairman of Al-Mayadeen, Ghassan Bin Jedo, questioned the timing of the journalists’ deaths, noting during an interview aired by the network that the Israeli government last week banned its broadcasts after some officials accused it of being a Hezbollah mouthpiece.
The journalists for Al-Mayadeen are the latest to be killed in the escalating violence in Lebanon. Last month, a Reuters videographer, Issam Abdallah, died in a missile strike fired from the direction of Israel.
A total of at least 50 journalists have been killed amid the Israel-Hamas war, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists, making it one of the deadliest periods for reporters since the media watchdog first began gathering data in 1992.
Malachy Browne contributed reporting.