Israel attacks Lebanon after Hizballah operation
Israel attacked targets in southern Lebanon on Wednesday after four Israelis were wounded in a Hizballah operation against Israeli military convoy.
The Israeli army said an anti-tank missile hit a military vehicle in the Israeli-occupied Shebaa Farms area on the border with Lebanon and close to the ceasefire line with Syria.
An Israeli security source said four people were wounded in the area when their vehicle came under "very heavy fire at close range".
Mortar shells also struck another military position on nearby Mount Hermon, the army said, without saying whether anyone was injured.
Hizballah quickly claimed responsibility for the attack. In a statement, it said thyat fighters destroyed a number of Israeli vehicles that were carrying Israeli officers and soldiers and caused casualties among "enemy ranks."
It said the attack was carried out by a group calling itself the "heroic martyrs of Quneitra," suggesting it was in retaliation for an Israeli airstrike on the Golan Heights on Jan. 18 that killed six Hezbollah fighters and an Iranian general. six Hezbollah fighters earlier this month.
Palestinian Islamic resistance movement (Hamas) and Islamic Jihad expressed support for the Hizballah operation describing it as "heroic" .
In a statement Hamas spokesman, Sami Abu Zuhri, said that " Hizballlah had the right to respond to the Israeli aggression against Al Quneitra
Israel, which reported unspecified casualties on the Israeli side, responded by firing at least 50 artillery shells into Lebanon in a significant escalation along the volatile border.
The United Nations said a UN peacekeeper was killed in southern Lebanon, in an incident likely related to the border flare-up.
Lebanese security sources say that Israeli tanks began shelling areas of south eastern Lebanon shortly after the attack on the convoy.
Another security source said the Israeli army was firing a shell into the area about every two minutes, and was using artillery as well as tanks.
The Lebanese army is deployed in all five villages that were shelled, but it was not immediately clear whether Hizballah had a presence there.
Israel occupied parts of Lebanon for 22 years until 2000 and the two countries are still technically at war.
In 2006, Israel fought a bloody war against Lebanon that killed more than 1,200 people in Lebanon, mostly civilians, and some 160 Israelis, mostly soldiers.
The Shebaa Farms area is a mountainous, narrow sliver of land rich in water resources measuring 25 square kilometres (10 square miles). It has been occupied by Israel since the 1967 Middle East war.
Since Israeli troops withdrew from south Lebanon in 2000, the area has become an area of friction between Israel and Hizballah.
Hizballah chief Hassan Nasrallah is set to give his first speech since that attack on Friday.