A man inspects the scene of an overnight Israeli air strike that targeted an area near the Bekaa Valley city of Baalbek, around 80 kilometres from the Israel-Lebanon frontier, on May 6, 2024. Image Credit: AFP

BEIRUT: An Israeli air strike on a car in southern Lebanon killed four people on Thursday, according to Lebanon’s civil defence, with security sources saying those killed were members of armed group Hezbollah.

The conflict between Hezbollah and Israel has rumbled on since October in parallel to the Gaza war, with an escalation this week as both sides intensified their bombardment, fuelling concern of a bigger war between the heavily-armed adversaries.

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Israel has used artillery, drones and warplanes against targets in southern Lebanon, including to strike fighters from Hezbollah and other armed groups. Fighters in Lebanon have launched rockets and their own drones into northern Israel.

The Israeli military did not immediately reply to a request for comment on Thursday’s strikes.

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Lebanon’s civil defence rescue force said it had pulled four bodies out of a car that had been scorched by an Israeli strike.

Two security sources told Reuters the four killed were members of Hezbollah.

The exchanges of fire have uprooted tens of thousands of people on both sides of the border. In northern Israel, the displacement has prompted calls for firmer military action against Hezbollah.

Israeli Defence Minister Yoav Gallant warned on Wednesday that the next months “may be a hot summer,” saying either a diplomatic deal or military solution was needed to restore security.

The fighting between Israel and Hezbollah has been the most intense since they went to war in 2006.

Hezbollah has repeatedly said that it will cease fire when the Israeli offensive in Gaza stops, but that it is also ready to fight on if Israel continues to attack Lebanon.

At least 399 people have been killed in Lebanon in seven months of cross-border violence, mostly militants but also including more than 70 civilians, according to an AFP tally.

Israel says 14 soldiers and nine civilians have been killed on its side of the border, including one on Wednesday.

Three Israeli soldiers have been reported killed in north Lebanon this week.

On Wednesday, Hezbollah said two of its fighters had been killed, while Palestinian militant group Islamic Jihad said three of its own combatants were killed on the Lebanon-Israel border.

Tens of thousands of people have been displaced on both sides.