Nine members of Lebanon’s Hezbollah were killed in Israeli bombardment in southern Lebanon on Monday, three sources in Lebanon said, as the conflict between Israel and Palestinian militants expanded to the Israeli-Lebanese border.
Two of the sources, both close to the Iran-backed Hezbollah, said their death would draw a response.
The members were killed in Israeli shelling into southern Lebanon prompted by a cross-border raid by the Palestinian Islamic Jihad group, which has been fighting alongside the Hamas group since it launched its surprise attack on Israel on Saturday.
The Israeli army said soldiers backed by helicopters killed at least two gunmen who crossed the frontier.
The armed wing of Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) claimed responsibility for that operation.
A Hezbollah official said had earlier denied the group was involved.
Some residents of southern Lebanon said they were leaving homes along the border with Israel amid heavy shelling that had so far pounded the outskirts of towns and villages.
A series of incidents over the past months had already elevated the risk of escalation along the Lebanon-Israel border before the last days of fighting in Israel and Gaza.
Hezbollah and Israel exchanged artillery and rocket fire on Sunday.
In a statement, the Israeli military said its soldiers “killed a number of armed suspects that infiltrated into Israeli territory from Lebanese territory”. It did not elaborate on the number.
Military helicopters “are currently striking in the area,” the statement added.
A security source in Lebanon and a source in Lebanon’s border area said a group of men had approached the border, with one firing at an Israeli observation post.
Israel’s Army Radio gave the location as being near Adamit, across from the Lebanese border towns of Aalma El Chaeb and Zahajra.
A spokesperson for the U.N.’s peacekeeping mission said its head Major General Lazaro was “in contact with the involved parties, urging them to exercise maximum restraint.”
Lebanon’s army confirmed shelling had taken place in border areas and asked people to be cautious in their movements.
Gabi Hage, a father of three with a house near the border described heavy shelling close to him.
“Our house is really close to the border, so we’re leaving and going down to the village. All my neighbours are doing the same,” he said.