Smoke rising in Gaza City after Israeli strikes on Saturday.Credit...Mohammed Saber/EPA, via Shutterstock

Hezbollah strikes Israel in retaliation for deadly day

Hezbollah has fired rockets at a northern Israeli town in a “preliminary response” to the killing of 10 civilians in southern Lebanon, the deadliest day for Lebanese civilians in four months of cross-border hostilities.

The United Nations urged a halt to what it called a “dangerous escalation” of the conflict, which has played out in parallel to the Gaza war and fuelled concerns of a wider confrontation between the Iran-backed Hezbollah and Israel.

The Israeli military said it had killed a commander in Hezbollah’s elite Radwan unit, his commander and another operative in a “precise air strike” in Nabatieh on Wednesday, without mentioning the civilian deaths.

Hezbollah said three of its fighters had been killed but did not identify any as commanders, which it has done in the past.

Seven of the civilians were killed in Nabatieh late on Wednesday when a rare Israeli strike on the southern city hit a multi-storey building, sources in Lebanon said. The dead were from the same extended family, and included three children.

It followed an earlier attack that killed a woman and two children in the village of al-Sawana at the border, who were buried on Thursday.

The bodies of the children, wrapped in green shrouds, were so small they each fit on two plastic chairs as people came to pay respects. Their father held them tight before they were buried as another man sobbed on his shoulder.

“The enemy will pay the price for these crimes,” Hezbollah politician Hassan Fadlallah told Reuters, saying Hezbollah had a “legitimate right to defend its people”.

A source familiar with Hezbollah thinking said the attack on Nabatieh marked an escalation but was still within unwritten “rules of engagement” by which much of the violence has been contained near the border.

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