Hezbollah not interested in escalation, UN tells Israel

Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon says Israel received a message — via UNIFIL — that Hezbollah was not interested in further escalation.

January 29, 2015 09:24
1 minute read.
unifil lebanon

UNIFIL members beside a banner for Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah in south Lebanon . (photo credit: REUTERS)

Israel said 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.

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

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"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.

The Israel-Lebanon frontier, where two Israeli soldiers and a Spanish peacekeeper were killed in an exchange of fire between Hezbollah and Israel, appeared quiet early on Thursday.

"I can't say whether the events are behind us," Ya'alon 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. The attack appeared to be in retaliation for a January 18 Israeli air strike in southern Syria that killed several Hezbollah members and an Iranian general.

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

On Wednesday, the IDF soldiers killed in Hezbollah's attack will be laid to rest. Maj. Yochai Kalangel, 25, will be buried at Mount Herzl Military Cemetery today at 11 a.m. St.-Sgt. Dor Haim Nini, 20, will be laid to rest at Shtulim Cemetery at 3 p.m.

Ya'akov Lappin and Ariel Ben Solomon contributed to this report.

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