Israel said its aircraft struck Hezbollah targets in Lebanon on Saturday and that one of its soldiers was hit by an anti-tank missile, in cross-border fighting that the Iran-backed group said killed six of its fighters.
With the frontier region seeing its worst violence in years as Israel wages war against Gaza’s Hamas militants, the Israeli military said it traded fire with Hezbollah in at least four different areas along the Lebanese border.
The hostilities have forced residents on both sides to flee their homes. Israel’s military says seven soldiers have been killed since Oct. 7. Hezbollah says 19 of its fighters have died, including the six on Saturday. The violence has also killed civilians and journalists, including one with Reuters.
A security source in Lebanon said one Hezbollah fighter was killed in the Lebanese area of Hula, opposite the Israeli community of Margaliot, which Israel said was the target of an anti-tank missile attack. The Israeli army said it fired back.
Hezbollah, which claimed attacks on Israeli military positions throughout Saturday, later said five other members were killed. Israel said its soldiers struck a cell attempting to launch anti-tank missiles toward the area of Shlomi, an Israeli town some 70 km (44 miles) from Margaliot.
An Israeli soldier was severely injured after being hit by an anti-tank missile near the Israeli town of Bar’am, the military said. Two other soldiers were lightly injured in the incident, it added, without saying if they were also hit by the missile.
Hezbollah and Israel’s military have been trading fire at the frontier almost daily since Palestinian group Hamas launched a deadly attack on Israel on Oct. 7 and Israel retaliated with fierce air strikes on Gaza.
It is the worst escalation in violence along the Israeli-Lebanese border since a 2006 war between Hezbollah and Israel.
Sources have previously said Hezbollah’s attacks were designed to keep Israel’s military occupied without provoking a major war. Israel has said it has no interest in waging war and said if Hezbollah is restrained it will maintain the status quo.
But rising tensions have raised concerns in the region and beyond about the risk of a wider conflict, as Israel makes preparations for an expected land incursion into Gaza.
An Israeli army spokesperson said on Saturday its evacuation of the border town of Kiryat Shmona allowed the military to broaden its actions against Hezbollah, a Hamas ally.
Israel and Hezbollah both reported exchanges of fire on other points along the frontier on Saturday, including around Lebanon’s Alma Al-Shaab and Israel’s Hanita, an area where Hezbollah said it fired guided missiles and Israel responded.
The Palestinian group Islamic Jihad, which has a presence in southern Lebanon, said one of its members was killed in Saturday’s fighting.