Israel Says It Clashed With Hezbollah Along Volatile Border

Israel’s military said forces from the Lebanese militant Hezbollah group infiltrated a volatile frontier area controlled by the Jewish state, where they exchanged fire with Israeli troops before retreating back into Lebanon.

Israeli soldiers sustained no injuries, military spokesman Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus said. The military had been preparing for retaliation by Iran-backed Hezbollah after Israel allegedly killed one of its fighters in an airstrike in Syria last week.

The incident took place in the Shebaa Farms area, land claimed by both Lebanon and Syria that Israel captured from Syria in the 1967 Middle East war.

In a statement aired by Hezbollah’s Al-Manar television, the group said its fighters didn’t infiltrate Israel and weren’t involved in an exchange of fire but came under attack from Israel. It also vowed to avenge the killing of Ali Mohsen, who was killed by Israel in Syria.

Various factors are arguing against further escalation.

Hezbollah’s No. 2, Sheikh Naim Qassem, ruled out an all-out war with Israel during an interview with Al Mayadeen television on Sunday, and Israeli officials have said they aren’t interested in escalation. Hezbollah is facing mounting pressures internally, with many blaming the group for playing a part in the country’s economic meltdown. It’s also bad timing for any renewed hostilities, considering the coronavirus crises in Iran, Israel and Lebanon.

“Hezbollah should know that it’s playing with fire,” Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in televised remarks. “Any attack against us will be answered with great force.”

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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