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Israel-Lebanon: Hezbollah members 'wounded' in explosion at border

Israeli media claims three members of Hezbollah had set a fire at the border, setting off landmines
An artillery vehicle is photographed on the outskirts of Kiryat Shmona near Israel's border with Lebanon on 6 July 2023 (AFP)

Members of Lebanon's Hezbollah movement were wounded on Wednesday in an explosion on the southern border with Israel, according to media reports. 

Sources told Reuters the men were wounded in an "attack" and a security source told AFP the injuries were from "Israeli fire". 

Initial reports from local media state that three members of Hezbollah were wounded in the incident. 

The Israeli army said it foiled an attempt by Lebanese men to damage the border fence. 

However, the Israeli news site Ynet said that Israeli troops had used "non-lethal" means to drive the men away.

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There was no immediate comment from Hezbollah. 

According to Al Jazeera, the group is now conducting an investigation with the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (Unifil) to determine the source of the blast.  

Israel's public broadcaster Kan said earlier that a group of Hezbollah men had set a fire at the border, setting off landmines, and that Israeli troops had fired warning shots during the incident. 

An Israeli army spokesperson said in a statement that several individuals holding Hezbollah flags were seen firing flares towards Israel, and that the army pushed them back.

The Hezbollah members at the border are believed to have been marking the 17th anniversary of the Second Lebanon War. The month-long war between Hezbollah and Israel killed 1,200 people in Lebanon, mostly civilians, and around 160 Israelis, most of them troops fighting Hezbollah in Lebanon. 

Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah is due to give a speech later tonight to commemorate the 2006 war. 

Israeli Defence Minister Yoav Gallant confrimed targeting  "Hezbollah operatives" in a brief statement. 

"We deterred Hezbollah operatives with non-lethal means. Anyone who tries us will receive an answer, we will know how to do what is necessary at the right time," Gallant said. 

Renewed tensions

The Lebanese southern border has experienced a rise in tensions in recent weeks, which peaked on 6 July when there was a cross-border exchange of fire. 

The Israeli army shelled southern Lebanon after two rockets were launched from the area and exploded near the border fence with Israel.

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Initially, the Israeli army denied reports that a mortar was launched from southern Lebanon but then said that a rocket landed close to its border territory.

Hezbollah did not comment on the reports of the rocket fire.

However, the armed group condemned what it called "dangerous measures" taken by Israeli forces in the northern part of Ghajar, which Lebanon deems as part of its territory. 

Lebanese media reported Israel had fired "more than 15 artillery shells", which hit the communities of Kfar Chouba and Halta on Thursday morning.

Israel and Lebanon remain foes, and the Unifil in Lebanon patrols the fence border between them to keep peace in the region.

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