Lebanon’s army on Thursday retrieved the bodies of two shepherds killed by Israeli fire, official media said, raising to 66 the number killed in Lebanon since the Israel-Hamas war began, according to an AFP tally.
Lebanon’s southern border has seen tit-for-tat exchanges, mainly between Israel and Hamas ally Hezbollah, since Hamas militants launched an unprecedented October 7 attack on Israel from the Gaza Strip.
The two shepherds, aged 20 and 22, had been reported missing on Wednesday as they herded their flock through Wazzani, their home village near the border, Lebanon’s official National News Agency (NNA) reported.
“They were found dead after the (Israeli) occupation forces opened fire in their direction,” the NNA said.
The United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) said Wednesday the Israeli military had “suspended fire” to allow peacekeepers and Lebanon’s army to find the wounded pair, with the search called off at nightfall “due to the darkness and presence of land mines in the area”.
Most of those killed in the cross-border violence have been Hezbollah fighters but the number also includes seven civilians, one of them a journalist.
A local official from the border village of Yater told AFP a 16-year-old died of his wounds on Wednesday following an Israeli bombardment.
On the Israeli side, nine people have died — eight soldiers and one civilian, the army says.
Hezbollah said Thursday it had downed an Israeli drone with a surface-to-air missile, the second such announcement in days.
The powerful Shiite Muslim movement has been targeting Israeli observation posts and military positions near the border.
Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah is set to speak Friday for the first time since the Israel-Hamas war broke out.
Israel says its aim in Gaza is to destroy Hamas following the October 7 attacks, the worst in the country’s 75-year history, with officials saying militants killed 1,400 people and kidnapped 242 others.
It has been relentlessly bombarding Gaza since then, in an assault that the Hamas-run health ministry says has killed more than 8,700 people, two-thirds of them women and children.