In Brief

Will there be a new war between Israel and Hezbollah?

Old foes traded fire on Sunday after days of simmering tensions

Israel has attacked targets in southern Lebanon after Hezbollah fired several anti-tank rockets into northern Israel in retaliation for a reported Israeli drone attack in Beirut last week.

The Israel Defence Force said “two or three anti-tank missiles” were fired from southern Lebanon toward an army base and a military ambulance, with no deaths or injuries.

However, Hezbollah is quoted in local media as saying it had destroyed an Israeli tank, killing and injuring those on board.

Lt Col Jonathan Conricus said Israel had fired back with approximately 100 artillery shells and that attack helicopters had also struck the area.

The exchanges have heightened speculation that there could be a major conflict between the old foes. Haaretz reports that Benjamin Netanyahu, the prime minister, has said Israel is ready for any scenario.

Tensions have been rising between Israel and Hezbollah, with the leader of the Shia militant group, Hassan Nasrallah, warning on Saturday that all options were open to counter Israeli drones violating Lebanon's sovereignty.

Israeli news website Ynet says the Israeli army is “readying for war with Hezbollah”. 

Former Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert has accused Netanyahu of using military operations for political gain before the upcoming election. “It's unquestionably pure politics and prime minister Netanyahu does it unstoppably,” he said.

Accusing Netanyahu of scaremongering, he added: “He makes it look like we are standing before a horrible threat, and he steers the wheel to spare us from the threat in the North and in the South.”

It is 13 years since Israel went to war with Hezbollah. Reuters says that the month-long conflict in 2006 killed nearly 1,200 Lebanese people, mostly civilians, and 165 Israelis.

Whether the latest exchange of fire leads to a new sustained conflict remains to be seen but residents in northern Israel were sheltering in bunkers yesterday, evoking memories of the 2006 war.

The Guardian reports that Israel’s president, Reuven Rivlin, has said the country is “ready and willing to defend Israel’s citizens wherever they are, without hesitation”.

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