TEL AVIV — Israel’s military said on Sunday that it fired into southern Lebanon after a number of anti-tank missiles targeted an Israeli military base and army vehicles near the border.
Lebanon’s Iran-backed Hezbollah group said its fighters destroyed an Israeli military vehicle, killing or wounding those inside, NBC News has learned.
The Israeli Defense Forces disputed that claim in a statement, saying Hezbollah fired “2-3 anti-tank missiles” from Lebanon that hit an IDF military outpost and ambulance in northern Israel, but that “no Israelis were injured in the attack.”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement that he met with generals and his chief of staff to discuss the next steps.
“We were attacked with several anti-tank missiles,” Netanyahu said. “We responded with 100 shells and firing from the air by various means.”
“I have ordered that we be prepared for any scenario. Following the exchange, residents near the border were told to stay in their homes and open shelters,” the prime minister added.
Just hours before Sunday’s incident, the Lebanese military said an Israeli drone, which violated Lebanon’s airspace, dropped incendiary material and sparked a fire in a pine forest by the border.
“The Israeli occupation forces targeted the outlying areas of Maroun al-Ras, Aitaroun and Yaroun with more than 40 cluster and incendiary rocket-propelled grenades, which resulted in fires in the forested villages that have been shelled,” the Lebanese Army said in a statement Sunday.
The fires near the border in Lebanon “originate with operations by our forces in the area,” the Israeli military said in a statement without elaborating.
Tensions in the region have escalated in recent weeks after a series of airstrikes in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon that neighboring countries blame on Israel.
Hezbollah’s leader said late on Saturday its field commanders were ready to respond to Israeli attacks.
Israel’s military said on Saturday that it had ordered extra forces to deploy near the border amid rising tensions in the area, which had been largely quiet since both long-time enemies fought a month-long war in 2006.
Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri asked the United States and France to intervene as the situation continues to intensify at the country’s southern border. Hariri’s office said in a release Sunday that he has contacted U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Emmanuel Bonne, foreign policy adviser to French President Emmanuel Macron.
Paul Goldman reported from Tel Aviv, Lawahez Jabari from jerusalem and Yuliya Talmazan from London.