Lebanon’s Hezbollah movement and the Israeli armed forces on Sunday traded strikes across the line separating the two states, known as the Blue Line for the color of helmets of UN peacekeepers who patrol it.
The Shia movement hit Israel’s Wolf armored vehicle, parked at military barracks near the Jewish settlement of Afifim, with an anti-tank missile. In response, the Israeli artillery shelled the territory of southern Lebanon for more than two hours.
According to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Israeli forces launched over 100 projectiles targeting the area from where the Lebanese missile came from.
According to Netanyahu, no Israeli servicemen were injured. The Al Hadath TV, however, aired footage of Israeli helicopters taking injured soldiers to a hospital in Haifa, TASS reports.
In a speech to his supporters on Saturday, Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah said his fighters were preparing to avenge recent Israeli drone strikes on Beirut and other regions. "Israel is taking aggressive measures against the resistance forces in Lebanon, Syria and Iraq, and we cannot leave them unanswered," he said.
Prior to that, Nasrallah vowed that the Shia militia will retaliate Israel’s shelling of its base near the Syrian capital of Damascus, hit by several missiles overnight to August 25.
In the wake of the incident, Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri held phone conversations with US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo and an advisor to French President Emmanuel Macron to inform them of dangerous developments on the Israeli-Lebanese border, the Al-Watania agency reported citing the premier’s press service.
"The head of the government urged Washington and Paris, as well as the international community, to intervene and prevent a military escalation," the agency said.
Meanwhile, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said his country would react to developments on the Lebanese border depending on how the events unfold.
"We will decide about future actions on the border with Lebanon depending on how the situation unfolds," Arab media quoted the premier as saying. "We will be ready for any surprises."
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres urged Israel and Lebanon to show maximum restraint, according to a statement released by his spokesman Stephane Dujarric.
"The Secretary-General is seriously concerned about the incidents across the Blue Line," the statement says. "He calls for maximum restraint and urges all concerned to cease all activities that violate resolution 1701 and endanger the cessation of hostilities."
The Arab League said in a statement that the international community bears the responsibility of containing Israel, which may further escalate border tensions with Lebanon to gain political advantage ahead of elections in the country.
"The global community should constrain the actions of Israel, which may push the situation toward further escalation to attain its pre-election goals," the Cairo-based pan-Arab body said in a statement. "Secretary General Ahmed Aboul-Gheit is following the border shelling attacks with concern and expresses his full solidarity with the people of Lebanon in confronting any attacks."
According to the organization, Israel’s policy is aimed at "dealing a blow to the Lebanese unity."
"This is why preserving the trust in Lebanese state institutions should become the priority under those delicate circumstances," the Arab League said.