By Ian Krietzberg
Hezbollah, a militant group based in Lebanon, attacked a northern Israeli military base on Aug. 31. The Washington Post reported that Israeli forces then retaliated with bombings of three villages in Southern Lebanon on Sept. 1, further escalating tensions between the two countries.
NBC News reported that both sides claim a different tale. Hezbollah claims to have “‘destroyed an Israeli military vehicle, killing or wounding those inside,’” while the Israeli Defense Forces claim that Hezbollah fired “‘2-3 anti-tank missiles’” from Lebanon, and that no Israelis were wounded.
The first attack followed an Israeli airstrike in Syria that killed two Hezbollah commanders just days before, according to The Washington Post. The attacks threaten to break the cease-fire that has been in place since the month-long war between the two countries in 2006.
According to CNN, the attacks also represent the “most serious cross-border exchange since January 2015,” when Hezbollah responded to an Israeli killing of an Iranian general by killing two soldiers in one of the nation’s military jeeps.
“‘We were attacked with several anti-tank missiles,’” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said at the Honduras diplomatic office in Jerusalem, according to The Times of Israel. “‘We responded with 100 shells and firing from the air by various means. We are consulting about the next steps. I have ordered that we be prepared for any scenario,’” he said.
Despite Israel’s statement that neither soldiers nor civilians were killed or injured in the attack, two servicemen were flown to Haifa’s Rambam Medical Center, according to The Times of Israel. However, they were released shortly afterward.
On Sept. 1, Lebanese Prime Minister Saad al-Hairiri called Secretary of State Mike Pompeo along with top French diplomats, asking the U.S. and France to “‘intervene in the face of developments at the southern border,’” according to Reuters.
The Associated Press reported that U.N. peace forces have been on the ground in Southern Lebanon, and have been in contact with all sides of the conflict. Despite the U.N. peacekeepers maintaining their presence on the ground, U.N. spokesman Andrea Tenanti said that “‘calm has returned in the area.’”
Despite peace efforts, tensions remain high as Hezbollah’s deputy head Naim Kassem defended his organization’s retaliation against Israel on Sept. 1.
“‘Hezbollah wants to preserve deterrence and the rules of engagement in order to prevent something worse from happening,’” he said, according to The Associated Press.