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Figure close to Hamas survives Israeli strike in Lebanon, 3 others killed

BEIRUT (Reuters) -An Israeli strike about 60 km (40 miles) inside Lebanon's southern border on Saturday targeted a Palestinian figure close to Hamas but he survived, four security sources said.

Three other people were killed, including one member of the powerful, Iran-backed Lebanese armed group Hezbollah, a Hamas ally, the security sources also told Reuters.

One source said the person targeted was close to Saleh al-Arouri, the Hamas deputy chief killed last month in a suspected Israeli strike on a suburb of Beirut.

Saturday's strike was much deeper into Lebanese territory than the usual exchanges of fire between Hezbollah and Israel's military, which have been mostly limited to the border region.

There was no immediate comment from Hamas in Lebanon or from the Israeli military.

An Israeli strike on a group of people outside a mosque in the town of Houla later on Saturday killed one civilian and wounded at least six more, according to Dr. Mohammad Hamadi, head of the Tebnin Hospital, where the casualties were transferred.

Hezbollah and Israel have been exchanging near-daily fire since Oct. 7 when Hamas launched an attack on Israeli territory in which 1,200 people were killed and more than 200 taken hostage into the Gaza Strip.

Israel's military then launched a land, air and ground assault on Gaza that has left more than 27,000 people dead.

On Saturday, Hezbollah said it had seized an Israeli Skylark drone over Lebanese air space "in good condition".

The Skylark is a small, unmanned aerial vehicle typically used for surveillance and produced by Israel-based weapons manufacturer Elbit Systems.

Lebanese officials and Western diplomats have said Hezbollah has signalled its openness to U.S. diplomatic efforts to secure calm on the border with Israel once a ceasefire is in place in Gaza.

Hamas this week proposed a ceasefire of 4-1/2 months, during which remaining hostages would go free, Israel would withdraw its troops and agreement would be reached on an end to the war.

Netanyahu said Hamas' terms, offered in response to a proposal drawn up by U.S. and Israeli spy chiefs with Qatar and Egypt, were "delusional" and vowed to fight on.

(Reporting by Maya Gebeily and Laila Bassam, Writing by Adam Makary; Editing by Toby Chopra, Andrew Cawthorne and Giles Elgood)