The United States said it stood by Israel Wednesday, after a cross-border attack by Hezbollah operatives left two soldiers dead, in the most serious clash along the northern border in five years.
“We support Israel’s legitimate right to self-defense and continue to urge all parties to respect the blue line between Israel and Lebanon,” State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters.
She added that Washington condemned Hezbollah’s hitting of an Israeli military convoy.
“Hezbollah continues to incite violence and instability inside Lebanon by attacking Israel and by its presence and fighting inside Syria, which violates Lebanese leaders’ agreed policy of dissociating Lebanon from foreign conflicts,” Psaki said in a statement.
Two soldiers were killed and seven more injured when their convoy was hit by a series of anti-tank missiles shot by Hezbollah, in a reprisal for an airstrike in Syria on January 18 that left several Hezbollah fighters and an Iranian general dead.
Israel responded to the fire, by shelling Hezbollah positions in Lebanon, apparently killing a Spanish peacekeeper.
Psaki said the US was “deeply concerned” by the deaths.
The US condemnation came shortly before the UN Security Council was to meet on the crisis in New York.
“We urge all parties to refrain from any action that could escalate the situation,” Psaki said, adding Washington was closely monitoring the situation.