Israel says Hezbollah not interested in "escalating violence"

Reuters , Thursday 29 Jan 2015

Hezbollah celebrations
Hezbollah supporters release fireworks in celebration in front of a billboard of Lebanon's Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah in Beirut, after the militant Islamist group fired a missile at Israeli military vehicles on the frontier with Israel, January 28, 2015 (Photo: Reuters)

Israel claimed on Thursday it received a message from the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah that it was backing away from further violence, a day after the worst deadly clashes in years erupted along the border.

The Israel-Lebanon frontier, where two Israeli soldiers were killed by Hezbollah appeared quiet early on Thursday.

A Spanish peacekeeper in southern Lebanon was killed on Wednesday as Israel responded with air strikes and artillery fire, a UN spokesman and Spanish officials said.

Hezbollah's operation appeared to be in retaliation for a Jan. 18 Israeli air strike in southern Syria that killed several Hezbollah members and an Iranian general.

Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon said Israel had received a message from a UN peacekeeping force in Lebanon that Hezbollah was not interested in further escalation.

"Indeed, a message was received," he said. "There are lines of coordination between us and Lebanon via UNIFIL (the UN force) and such a message was indeed received from Lebanon."

In Beirut, Hezbollah officials could not immediately be reached for comment.

"I can't say whether the events are behind us," Yaalon added in a separate radio interview. "Until the area completely calms down, the Israel Defense Forces will remain prepared and ready."

The Israeli soldiers were killed when Hezbollah fired five missiles at a convoy of Israeli military vehicles. 

*This story was edited by Ahram Online

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