UN peacekeepers of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) patrol in Kfar Kila village in south Lebanon, near the border with Israel, January 28, 2015. [Photo/Agencies]
JERUSALEM -- Israeli forces were attacking southern Lebanon from the sky and ground on Wednesday, amid steep escalation in the volatile border, killing a Spanish UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) soldier, officials and local media said.
The Lebanese Shiite organization Hezbollah assumed responsibility for an earlier missile attack Wednesday, which targeted an Israeli military convey near the border. The attack killed and wounded an unconfirmed number of soldiers.
Shortly afterwards, Israel fired at least 50 artillery shells into southern Lebanon and later also launched an air strike, a military spokesperson said in a statement.
"In response to Hezbollah attacks today, a short while ago, the Israel Defense Force (IDF) responded with combined aerial and ground strikes at Hezbollah operational positions," the spokesperson said.
Later, mortar shells were reported to hit an Israeli military position and a house in the Arab Druze village of Ragar in the Israeli-controlled Golan Heights.
Burning vehicles are seen near the village of Ghajar on Israel's border with Lebanon January 28, 2015. [Photo/Agencies]
Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu warned Hezbollah that a larger Israeli attack may follow.
"To everyone who is trying to challenge us at the northern border, I recommend for them look what happened in Gaza," Netanyahu said shortly before entering an emergency meeting he summoned with the military's senior command to discuss further steps.
"Hamas took its hardest hit since its formation and the IDF is prepared to act strongly on all fronts," he added.
The Hezbollah attack took place near Mount Dov and Shebaa Farms, a disputed zone at the intersection of the borders of Israel, Lebanon and Syria.
Hezbollah, which largely controls southern Lebanon, and Israel fought a one-month war in 2006, and the two remain sworn enemies.
An Israeli border police officer stands in front of a truck transporting a burnt vehicle near the village of Ghajar on Israel's border with Lebanon January 28, 2015. [Photo/Agencies]