Tensions continue to flare at the northern Israel border, with Israel and Lebanon announcing civilian casualties Sunday as a result of ongoing strikes between the Israel Defense Forces and Iran-backed Hezbollah.
IDF chief Herzi Halevi said in a statement Sunday that the military is ready to shift into “an offensive mode” in the north at any moment.
Both Israel and Lebanon — where the powerful paramilitary group Hezbollah operates in the south — said civilians had died along the border Sunday.
In Lebanon: Lebanon state-run NNA news said an Israeli strike hit a civilian vehicle in southern Lebanon and killed four relatives, including three children.
The vehicle had been on a road between the villages of Ainata and Aitaroun, near the border with Israel, when it was hit, according to NNA.
A grandmother and her three grandchildren were killed in the attack, according to the Lebanese state media outlet. The mother of the children was also injured and was transferred to a nearby hospital.
The Israel Defense Forces said it “identified and engaged a suspicious vehicle in Lebanon” but that it was still looking into claims that civilians were inside.
Hezbollah said in a statement that it shelled Kiryat Shmona in northern Israel at 7:20 pm local time (12:20 pm ET) with multiple rockets in response to the strike.
In Israel: An Israeli citizen was killed as a result of the Hezbollah attack, according to an IDF spokesperson for the Arab media, Avichay Adraee.
“Today, Hezbollah continued to attack Israeli military sites and civilian towns without distinguishing between civilians and military personnel. One of the attacks resulted in the death of an Israeli citizen,” Adraee said in a post on X, formerly known as Twitter.
Adraee accused Hezbollah of destabilizing security on the northern border, saying the group “targets the residents of the north indiscriminately, risking stability in southern Lebanon.”
Some background: There has been an ongoing exchange of fire between Israeli forces and Iran-backed Hezbollah across the border over the past weeks following the Hamas attack in Israel on October 7.
The group’s leader, Hassan Nasrallah, broke his nearly month-long silence about the Hamas attacks and ensuing war in Gaza on Friday.
He said Hezbollah would be “prepared for all scenarios,” and that any escalation by the Israeli army at the border would be a “historic folly” that would prompt a major response.
But he also said Hezbollah’s “primary goal” was to achieve a ceasefire in Gaza, and said it was incumbent on the US — which he held directly responsible for the bloodshed in the Palestinian enclave — to implement the cessation of hostilities.
US officials have repeatedly warned Nasrallah and other foes of Israel not to take advantage of the current fighting to launch a broader conflict in the region. Deterring a multi-front war was a central focus of the US secretary of state’s whirlwind diplomacy trip through the Middle East this weekend.