Israel not to respond to Hezbollah attack: UNIFIL

BEIRUT – A senior United Nations peacekeeping officer said Wednesday that Israel had informed the UN peacekeeping mission in Lebanon that it would not respond to an attack by the Lebanese Hezbollah movement.

"The Israeli side told the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) that it would not respond to the attack," the officer, requesting anonymity, told The Anadolu Agency.

Two Israeli troops were killed and seven others wounded earlier on Wednesday when the Lebanese movement Hezbollah attacked with mortar shells two military vehicles in the Israel-occupied Lebanese Shebaa Farms region.

A UNIFIL soldier – part of a Spanish unit – was also killed in the violence.

UNIFIL has not accused either Hezbollah or Israel of killing the solider.

The UN mission has been deployed since 1978 to ensure the cessation of hostilities between Lebanon and Israel in the area.

Earlier Wednesday, Hezbollah claimed responsibility for the attack, saying it had been in retaliation for the death of six of its fighters – along with six Iranians – in a recent drone strike in Syria.

The slain fighters had included two Hezbollah commanders and the son of Imad Mughniyah, a Hezbollah leader killed by a car bomb in Syria in 2008.

Israel, for its part, confirmed the death of the two soldiers, saying the attack had taken place on its "border with Lebanon."

The Lebanese Foreign Ministry, meanwhile, said the attack had occurred on Lebanese soil.

For over two years, Hezbollah has been openly engaged in the conflict in Syria, where it continues to fight alongside Syrian regime forces.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared earlier Wednesday that any group that sought to challenge Israel should first draw a lesson from the embattled Gaza Strip.

"Everyone who is trying to challenge us on the northern borders, I recommend them to look what happened near here in Gaza," he said.

In 2006, Israel and Hezbollah fought a 34-day war in which more than 1,200 Lebanese – mostly civilians – were killed.

In the same conflict, 160 Israelis – mostly soldiers – lost their lives.

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