Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah on Wednesday called the previous night’s exchange of fire with Israel an “important and sensitive” incident.
“What happened yesterday in South Lebanon is an important and sensitive measure for us, but I will not comment on it. I will instead leave it until a later point in time,” he said in an address marking the upcoming Ashura Islamic holiday that was broadcast on Hezbollah’s al-Manar TV channel.
According to the IDF’s initial investigation of the incident, at 10:40 p.m. on Tuesday Hezbollah snipers fired two shots from a small arms weapon at combat intelligence troops operating near the Israeli community of Manara close to the Lebanese border. The shots, fired from 200-300 meters (660-990 feet) away, missed their target, hitting a nearby object.
In response, Israeli artillery fired a number of flares and smoke shells into the air as troops searched the area for potential border breaches. A short while later, Israeli aircraft bombed a number of Hezbollah observation posts near the frontier, the military said.
What were apparently the first Israeli airstrikes against Hezbollah targets inside Lebanon since the 2006 Second Lebanon War were meant to indicate to the terror group that the IDF would react more forcefully to attacks than it has until now, while also not responding so aggressively that Hezbollah would be forced to retaliate and risk all-out war.
Earlier Wednesday, the United Nations peacekeeping force in Lebanon UNIFIL announced it was launching an investigation into the incident.
Tuesday night’s exchange came amid lingering tensions along the border after Hezbollah last month swore revenge for the death of one of its fighters in an airstrike outside Damascus on July 20 that was widely attributed to Israel.
The IDF on Wednesday evening said it was remaining on high alert following the border clash with Hezbollah.
Judah Ari Gross and Aaron Boxerman contributed to this report.