BEIRUT: Hezbollah claimed responsibility for planting a bomb that wounded two Israeli soldiers on the south Lebanon border Tuesday, according to a statement issued by the resistance group.
“At 2:22 pm Tuesday, the brigade of the martyred Ali Hasan Haidar of the Islamic Resistance set off an explosive device under an Israeli patrol in the Shebaa heights, which led to several casualties among the ranks of the occupying soldiers,” read the statement.
The brigade responsible for setting off the explosive device was named after 25-year-old Ali Hasan Haidar, a Hezbollah explosives expert, who was killed while trying to dismantle four Israeli devices planted on Hezbollah's telecommunications network in Adloun, south Lebanon last month.
The Israeli army confirmed the incident, saying that two soldiers had been wounded in the blast.
"Initial reports indicate that the explosion was caused by an explosive device that was planted" to attack Israeli soldiers, Israel's army tweeted.
Within minutes of Hezbollah claiming responsibility for the blast, the Israeli army tweeted that it had fired artillery at two Hezbollah posts along the border. However, an Al-Manar reporter said that no Hezbollah posts were situated in the area.
Security sources told The Daily Star that Israel has launched at least 15 explosives in retaliation near the Shebaa hills, at a rate of two per minute. The site of the attack lies 200 meters from Lebanese residential areas along the border.
A senior Israeli army source told The Jerusalem Post that "the incident hasn't ended yet from our standpoint."
"We have proved that we responded forcefully to every attempt to harm us, be it in the north, south or any other sector," Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told a cabinet meeting Tuesday, quoted by his office.
“The Lebanese government and Hezbollah are directly responsible for this blatant breach of Israel's sovereignty” tweeted Israeli army spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Peter Lerner.
Lerner deemed the attack an “unprovoked aggression,” saying that the Israeli army would “continue to operate to maintain safety of the northern Israel.”
Several reports cited a second blast that came within minutes of the first explosion, however, security sources denied such reports.
Following the assault, UNIFIL forces contacted both parties “urging maximum restraint and asking them to cooperate with UNIFIL in order to reduce tension and prevent escalation,” read a statement published by the group Tuesday. UNIFIL is also launching an investigation to determine the facts and circumstances of the incident.
UNIFIL deemed the incident a violation of UN Resolution 1701. “Such actions are in contravention of our objectives and efforts to reduce tensions and establish a stable and secure environment in southern Lebanon” the statement said.
Tuesday's blast comes just two days after Israeli soldiers fired at a Lebanese Army post and wounded one soldier in the same area.
The Army and UNIFIL have beefed up security measures as a result of Sunday's assault.
A UNIFIL source told The Daily Star that there were two scenarios being examined: one, the bomb was planted by Hezbollah in response to Israel firing at the Lebanese Army patrol Sunday; or two, that Israel had gone to the site to inspect a suspected bomb, setting it off in the process.
Israeli troops routinely violate the internationally recognized Blue Line around the Al-Sendaneh area to kidnap shepherds and conduct other operations.