Israeli warplanes struck a minibus carrying people fleeing the ongoing Israeli bombing of southern Lebanon, killing three people, and injuring thirteen, Lebanese security officials said Sunday. Those killed had been attempting to follow Israeli instructions, dropped by leaflets into southern Lebanon Saturday, to evacuate the southern villages and refugee camps and head north for safety.
The latest deaths bring the total to 375 Lebanese killed and 1,482 wounded in the last twelve days of Israeli strikes, according to Lebanese security officials. Only eight of those killed are Hezbollah fighters, the rest of the victims are civilians, say Lebanese government officials. 19 Israeli soldiers have been killed during invasions into Lebanon, and 15 Israeli civilians have been killed by rockets fired by Hezbollah from Lebanon into Israel, according to Israeli authorities.
An Italian unarmed United Nations military observer was also wounded by Israeli artillery fire in Southern Lebanon Sunday. The observer was injured in Maroun al-Ras village, a day after the Israeli army said it had captured the southern border village from Hezbollah guerrillas. The Italian army said the observer’s life was not in danger.
Israeli troops have continued their attempts to occupy the village of Maroun al-Ras, but did not appear to be advancing, Lebanese security officials said. Israeli General Beni Gantz said Israeli air and ground forces "have more or less completed taking over the village Marun Al-Ras," close to the Israeli border.
But Lebanese security forces said that the Israeli military, armed with hundreds of tanks, armed personnel carriers, and large numbers of explosives, were having difficulty holding the village, and have been engaging Hezbollah fighters in street battles in the village for the past two days.
At least four Israeli soldiers have been killed in the battle of Maroun al-Ras since Friday.
Israeli warplanes and artillery, meanwhile, continued to batter areas across the south of Lebanon on Sunday with hundreds of tons of missiles and bombs.