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Lebanon Strike Kills 2 Israelis as Israel-Hamas War Enters 100th Day 

An Israeli mobile artillery unit fires a shell from southern Israel towards the Gaza Strip, in a position near the Israel-Gaza border , Jan. 14, 2024.
An Israeli mobile artillery unit fires a shell from southern Israel towards the Gaza Strip, in a position near the Israel-Gaza border , Jan. 14, 2024.

Two civilians were killed in northern Israel on Sunday after an anti-tank missile fired from Lebanon hit their home in a town near the border, raising new concerns of a second conflict erupting against the backdrop of the ongoing Israel-Hamas war.

The deadly strike came on the 100th day of a conflict between Israel and Hamas that has killed nearly 24,000 Palestinians, devastated vast swaths of Gaza, driven around 85% of its 2.3 million residents from their homes and pushed a quarter of the population into starvation.

The war was triggered by Hamas’ Oct. 7 terror attack into southern Israel in which militants killed some 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and took around 250 hostages, around half of whom are still in captivity.

Palestinians look at the destruction after an Israeli strike at a residential building in Deir al Balah, Gaza Strip, Jan. 14, 2024.
Palestinians look at the destruction after an Israeli strike at a residential building in Deir al Balah, Gaza Strip, Jan. 14, 2024.

Tensions have soared across the region, with Israel trading fire almost daily with Lebanon’s Hezbollah militant group, Iran-backed militias attacking U.S. targets in Syria and Iraq, and Yemen’s Houthi rebels targeting international shipping, drawing a wave of U.S. airstrikes last week.

Sunday's missile strike came a day after the Israeli army said it killed three militants who had crossed into Israel from Lebanon and attempted to carry out an attack.

Hezbollah's leader, Hassan Nasrallah, said that his group won’t stop until a cease-fire is in place for Gaza.

“We are continuing, and our front is inflicting losses on the enemy and putting pressure

on displaced people,” Nasrallah said in a speech, referring to the tens of thousands of Israelis who have fled northern border areas.

The unprecedented level of death and destruction in Gaza has led South Africa to lodge allegations of genocide against Israel at the International Court of Justice. Israel adamantly denies the accusations and has vowed to press ahead with its offensive even if the court in The Hague issues an interim order for it to stop.

“No one will stop us, not The Hague, not the axis of evil and not anyone else," Netanyahu said Saturday evening, referring to Iran and its allied militias.

Israel has also vowed to return the more than 100 hostages still held in Gaza as its leaders have faced mounting protests from their families, including a 24-hour rally in Tel Aviv that began Saturday evening and drew tens of thousands of supporters.

Israeli forces have only managed to rescue one hostage, while more than 100 were released during a weeklong cease-fire in November in exchange for 240 Palestinians imprisoned by Israel. Hamas says no more hostages will be released until Israel ends its offensive.

Fears of a second front

Israel and Hezbollah have been careful not to allow their back-and-forth fighting to erupt into full-blown war on a second front.

But they have come close on several occasions — most recently in the aftermath of an airstrike that killed a top Hamas official in Beirut on Jan. 2. Hamas and Hezbollah have both blamed Israel for the strike. The latest attacks on Israel, including the deaths of two civilians Sunday, raised the likelihood of new Israeli reprisals.

The missile hit a home in the town of Yuval in northern Israel, killing a man in his 40s and his mother, who was in her 70s, Israeli rescuers said.

Although Yuval is one of more than 40 towns along the northern border evacuated by the government in October, Israeli media reported that the family stayed in the area because they work in agriculture.

More than 115,000 Israelis have evacuated from northern Israel due to the ongoing tensions. In Israel, 12 soldiers and seven civilians have died from rocket launches from Lebanon, and more than 170 were injured. Hezbollah has reported at least 150 fighters and 20 civilians have been killed in the near-daily exchanges of fire.

The deadly strike came hours after the army said it killed three militants who entered a disputed Israeli-controlled enclave in the Golan Heights.

A group called Islamic Glory Brigades claimed responsibility for the infiltration. The Associated Press could not independently verify the statement, and Hezbollah, the Lebanese branches of Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad all said the group was not affiliated with them.

US shields Israel from calls for truce

Israel has also been under growing international pressure to end the war in Gaza, but has so far been shielded by U.S. diplomatic and military support. Israel argues that any cease-fire would hand victory to Hamas, which has ruled Gaza since 2007 and is bent on Israel's destruction.

In recent weeks, Israel has scaled back operations in northern Gaza, the initial target of the offensive, where weeks of airstrikes and ground operations left entire neighborhoods in ruins. Netanyahu said there are no immediate plans to allow hundreds of thousands of Palestinians to return to their homes there, after U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken raised the issue during a visit to the region last week.

Israel has meanwhile launched major operations against the southern city of Khan Younis and built-up refugee camps in central Gaza. These camps date back to the 1948 war surrounding Israel's creation, when hundreds of thousands of Palestinians fled or were driven out and never allowed to return.

Israel eyes expanding offensive

Netanyahu said Israel would eventually need to push further south and take control of Gaza's border with Egypt, which Israeli officials say is still used by Hamas to smuggle in arms.

Egypt, which in recent years has fortified the border, demolished tunnels and established a buffer zone, insists it has full control of the border and says any such operation would have to be considered in light of agreements reached with Israel and the United States.

The area in and around the border town of Rafah is also packed with hundreds of thousands of Palestinians who fled from other parts of Gaza and are crowded into overflowing U.N.-run shelters and tent camps.