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Israeli strike kills Hezbollah member in east Lebanon 

Beirut, Lebanon — An Israeli strike in eastern Lebanon killed a Hezbollah member Saturday. The Israeli army said he was part of the militant group’s air defense unit, as tensions run high between the foes. 

Hezbollah has traded near daily fire with the Israeli army across Lebanon’s southern border since its Palestinian ally Hamas attacked Israel on October 7, triggering the war in Gaza.  

“A local Hezbollah official” was killed in an “Israeli drone” strike on a vehicle near the eastern city of Baalbek, a source close to the group told AFP, requesting anonymity as they were not authorized to speak to the media.  

Lebanon’s official National News Agency reported one person was killed when an “enemy drone” targeted a vehicle in the Shaat area, around 15 kilometers north of Baalbek.   

The area is northeast of Beirut, about 100 kilometers from Lebanon’s southern border with Israel.  

The Israeli military said in a statement that the air force “operated in the area of Baalbek to strike and eliminate … a key operative in Hezbollah’s Aerial Defense Unit.”  

The Hezbollah operative “took part in the planning and carrying out of numerous terror attacks” against Israel and helped build up the group’s “arsenal of Iranian weapons,” the statement added.   

Hezbollah announced that a fighter from the area had been killed.   

Recent Israeli strikes in south Lebanon have killed two senior Hezbollah commanders — one of them this week — with the Shiite Muslim movement raining rockets on northern Israel in response.   

The cross-border exchanges of fire have largely been restricted to border areas, although Israel has repeatedly struck deep inside eastern Lebanon.  

Hezbollah on Saturday claimed several attacks on Israeli positions near the southern border, including one with “explosive drones” that it said came in response to “Israeli enemy attacks” on south Lebanon villages.  

Lebanon’s news agency reported several Israeli strikes on areas in south Lebanon later Saturday.   

Hezbollah says it is acting in support of Palestinians and Hamas with its attacks, which began on October 8.  

The escalating violence has raised fears of all-out war between Israel and Hezbollah, which last went to war in 2006.   

The cross-border exchanges have killed at least 497 people in Lebanon, most of them fighters but also including 95 civilians, according to an AFP tally.  

Israeli authorities say at least 16 soldiers and 11 civilians have been killed on their side of the border.