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The New Arab Staff

Israeli military 'in combat' with Hezbollah after Lebanon border incident

Israel and Hezbollah engaged in clashes on Monday [Getty]

Date of publication: 27 July, 2020

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Tensions have been on the rise after Israel killed a Hezbollah fighter in Syria last week.
Israel on Monday reported a "security incident" on the Lebanese border leading to an exchange of fire, amid heightened tensions with Hezbollah.

Explosions and gunfire were reported in the Shebaa Farms area of the Israeli-Lebanese border - considered occupied land by Beirut - after suspected clashes between with Hezbollah forces, including artillery fire and and air strikes.

The Israeli military said it was engaged in "ongoing combat" in the area, claiming a Hezbollah cell attempted to breach the border with reports of Lebanese casualties.

"Following the security incident in the Mount Dov area... residents are asked to stay in their houses. Any kind of activity in open areas is forbidden," an army statement said.

The Israeli military said it will enforce a lockdown in the area, which has been the site of tensions between the two sides in recent days.

"We are in the midst of a complicated event," said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, on hearing news on the clashes.

Earlier, Netanyahu warned he would not allow Syria or Lebanon to be used as a base for attacks on Israel.

"We maintain the policy that I set years ago: we will not allow Iran to establish itself on our border. Lebanon and Hezbollah will be responsible for any attack against us that comes of Lebanon," he said, according to Haaretz.

A journalist with the pro-Hezbollah media outlet Al-Manar claimed that Israel carried out an unprovoked attack on Lebanese territory on Monday, posting an image which appeared to show the impact of artillery fire.

It comes after expected Hezbollah retaliation for the killing of one of its operatives in an Israeli airstrike in Syria last week.

Israeli has bolstered its military defences on the border region in response to the threats, with further reinforcements sent after the incident.

Hezbollah said it has increased its readiness "to monitor activities" and was expected to issue a statement on the incident later in the day.

It comes a day after Hezbollah's deputy Sheikh Naim Qassem said that the Islamist movement would respond to the killing of its soldier, but would stop short of war with Israel.

"The atmosphere does not indicate a war... It's unlikely, the atmosphere of war in the next few months," said Qassem.

"There is no change of rules of engagement and the deterrent equation with Israel exists and we are not planning to change it."

In 2019, an Israeli strike in Syria killed two Hezbollah fighters and led to the movement's leader, Hassan Nasrallah, threatening retaliation the next time its members were killed.

Israel and Hezbollah fought a bloody and destructive war in 2006, which resulted in hundreds of Lebanese civilian deaths and with both sides claiming victory.

Since then, Hezbollah and Israel have avoided a direct confrontation, particularly as the Lebanese movement remains bogged down in the Syria war.

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