Hezbollah has claimed responsibility for an anti-tank missile fired at an Israeli military vehicle in Shebaa farms on the border with Syria and Lebanon.
Reports of Israeli casualties were conflicting, with Israeli media reports saying four soldiers were wounded as a result of the attack, while other sources said four were killed and several more injured in Wednesday’s strike.
The Israeli government has yet to confirm any casualties.
In response to the attack, Israeli forces fired shells across the border into southern Lebanon. The United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) confirmed that Israeli shelling had killed one of its peacekeepers from Spain.
There were also reports of Israeli war planes flying over the border with Lebanon.
A Hezbollah statement claiming responsibility for the attack said: “11:25am this morning, al-Quneitra Martyr’s group targeted an Israeli convoy with specialised heavy duty rockets in the occupied Lebanese Shebaa farms area. The convoy included Israeli artillery, an officer and several soldiers many of whom were injured,” the statement read.
The attack by Hezbollah was likely in retaliation for an Israeli air strike on January 18th that killed six Hezbollah fighters and an Iranian general. Both Hezbollah and the Iranian army had vowed revenge, and earlier on Wednesday Iran said that Israel should “await retaliation” for the strike.
A Lebanese army spokesman said the missile was not fired from Lebanese territory, and that the artillery response by Israel was randomly falling on areas along the border, but that no shells had landed on villages with civilians yet.
Shebaa Farms is a small strip of disputed land at the intersection of the Lebanese-Syrian border and the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.
Al Jazeera’s Nisreen el-Shamayleh, reporting from Jerusalem, said that while a response was expected from Israel against Hezbollah, an escalation of hostilities was unlikely.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned: “The IDF is ready to act with force on any front”.