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Israeli strikes in Lebanon kill 16, militant rockets kill 1 Israeli as cross-border violence soars

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HEBBARIYE, Lebanon (AP) — A series of Israeli airstrikes in southern Lebanon killed 16 people and a barrage of rockets fired by the militant group Hezbollah killed one Israeli man, making Wednesday the deadliest day in more than five months of fighting along the border.

Since the outbreak of the Israel-Hamas war in Gaza, concerns have grown about further escalation along the Israel-Lebanon frontier. Tens of thousands of people on both sides have been displaced by the violence.

Wednesday’s Israeli strikes targeted a Lebanese Sunni political and militant organization, the Islamic Group, which has joined the Shiite militant group Hezbollah in its fight against Israel. Two Hezbollah fighters were also killed, as was a local commander with the Amal Movement, another Shiite group.

The first Israeli airstrike hit a paramedic center affiliated with the Islamic Group, killing seven of its members in the village of Hebbariye after midnight.

Muheddine Qarhani, head of the Emergency and Relief Corps, told reporters at the scene that the paramedic center had been set up late last year. He said he was surprised a medical group had been targeted.

Israel said it killed an Islamic Group member involved in attacks against Israel, as well as several other militants.

Maj. Gen. Ori Gordin, the head of the Israeli army’s Northern Command, said Israel was operating against the Islamic Group and had struck a “large number of operatives” and was also conducting “very significant strikes” against Hezbollah.

“We are at war. We have been at war for almost half a year now, and it doesn’t end with Hezbollah,” he told a gathering of commanders.

Hours after the airstrike, Hezbollah claimed responsibility for firing rockets into the northern Israeli city of Kiryat Shmona and a military base. Hezbollah said it was retaliating for the deadly attack on the paramedic center.

Rescue services in Israel said a 25-year-old man was killed when a direct hit sparked a fire in an industrial park in Kiryat Shmona. Footage from the scene showed thick black smoke pouring out of a building.

Another person was lightly injured. Around 30 rockets were launched from Lebanon toward northern Israel, according to the Israeli military.

Nada Khleif was in her small bakery in Hebbariyeh when the strike heavily damaged her business and a nearby apartment, where two of her relatives were unharmed.

“The bakery was my only means of living. It is gone now,” she said.

The Lebanese news agency said Israel bombed the village of Teir Harfa after sunset, killing five, and a second strike killed four people as paramedics gathered near a cafe in the coastal town of Naqoura.

Hezbollah’s Islamic Health Society said two of its paramedics were killed in Teir Harfa.

The Islamic Risala Scout Association, also a paramedic group, said one of its members was killed in the strike on Naqoura.

The Amal movement of Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri said the strike on Naquora killed one of its local commanders, identified as Ali Mahdi. Hezbollah said two of its fighters were killed without saying where they were struck.

The near-daily violence has mostly been confined to the area along the border, and international mediators are scrambling to prevent an all-out war. The fighting has killed nine civilians and 11 soldiers in Israel. Nearly 240 Hezbollah fighters and about 40 civilians have died in Lebanon.

Hezbollah began launching rockets toward Israel on Oct. 8, the day after Hamas-led militants stormed into southern Israel in a surprise attack that sparked the crushing war in Gaza.

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Lidman contributed from Tel Aviv, Israel. Associated Press writer Bassem Mroue in Beirut contributed to this report.

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Follow AP’s coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/israel-hamas-war

By MOHAMMAD ZAATARI and MELANIE LIDMAN
Associated Press

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