An Israeli strike on a car in south Lebanon killed three children and their grandmother on Sunday, Lebanese authorities said, as the Israeli army said a Hezbollah attack from Lebanon killed an Israeli citizen in northern Israel.
The Iran-backed Lebanese group Hezbollah said it responded to the Israeli strike, in which three girls aged between 10 and 14 were killed, by firing a barrage of grad rockets at the town of Kiryat Shmona in northern Israel.
It marks the first time Hezbollah has announced using that particular weapon during four weeks of clashes with Israeli forces, underlining the risks of escalation.
In a statement, Hezbollah said it would never tolerate attacks on civilians and its response would be “firm and strong”.
“The enemy will pay the price for its crimes against civilians,” Hezbollah lawmaker Hassan Fadlallah told Reuters.
Israel’s military said its troops engaged a vehicle “identified as a suspected transport for terrorists” in Lebanon on Sunday, and it was looking into reports there were civilians inside.
Lebanon’s caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati called it a “heinous crime.” Foreign Minister Abdallah Bou Habib told Reuters Lebanon would submit a complaint to the United Nations over the killing of civilians, including children, in the attack.
Footage broadcast by television station al-Mayadeen showed rescue workers removing one of the casualties from the still-smouldering remains of the car.
A report by the Lebanese security forces said the children were killed when Israel targeted the car they were in as it drove between the villages of Aynata and Aitaroun.
Their grandmother was also killed and their mother was wounded.
Israel and Hezbollah have been exchanging fire across the frontier since the Palestinian militant group Hamas and Israel went to war on Oct. 7. It has marked the worst violence across the border since Israel and Hezbollah fought a war in 2006.
The Israeli military said an Israeli was killed on Sunday in an attack by Hezbollah over the border, without giving further details.
Mikati met with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Amman earlier on Saturday and emphasized the importance of working towards a ceasefire in Gaza and stopping Israeli aggression in southern Lebanon, the state news agency reported.
Earlier on Sunday, the Israeli military said its air defences intercepted a drone flying towards Israel from Lebanon while it was over Lebanese territory, and that an anti-tank missile fired from Lebanon hit the Yiftah area of northern Israel.
Hezbollah announced several attacks on Israeli positions at the border using guided missiles and other weapons.
The Israeli army said the drone was identified flying from deep inside Lebanon toward Israel.
Lebanon’s state-owned National News Agency, citing its correspondent, earlier reported that Hezbollah shot down a hostile drone over south Lebanon, with wreckage falling over the villages of Zebdine and Harouf 30 km (20 miles) from the border.
There was no comment from Hezbollah on the report.
Hezbollah has for the first time declared its use of anti-aircraft missiles during the latest hostilities.
In an incident 3 km (2 miles) from the border, a scout troop affiliated with Lebanon’s Amal Movement, a Hezbollah ally, said four of its paramedics were wounded by an Israeli drone strike.
The Islamic Al-Risala Scout Association said the drone hit two cars directly as rescuers were evacuating people from a house struck in an earlier Israeli attack near the village of Tayr Harfa.