(photo credit: AP [file])
Defense officials downplayed Hizbullah threats on Monday to retaliate against the deadly shooting by IDF troops a day earlier of a man across the border in southern Lebanon.
The comments by Hizbullah lawmaker Hussein Haj Hassan came a day after troops opened fire at three suspected drug smugglers who were spotted trying to cross into the Israeli side of the split town of Ghajar, which straddles the Israeli-Lebanese border.
Lebanese security officials said one person was killed and another two were wounded in the incident late Sunday.
"This matter definitely will not pass in a way [in which] the people will remain silent," Haj Hassan said on LBC television Monday. "It is the right of the resistance to respond one day by any means."
Israeli officials said it was unlikely Hizbullah would use this apparently criminal-related incident to cause a flare-up on the border that has remained relatively quiet since the Second Lebanon War in 2006.
Haj Hassan decried the lack of international criticism of the Israeli firing, even though the circumstances surrounding the incident remained unclear. He said if the situation had been reversed, with an Israeli killed by fire from Lebanon, "you wouldn't imagine how many condemnations would have been issued... as if a citizen on our side has no value."
Haj Hassan did not threaten immediate retaliation. However, Hizbullah leader Hassan Nasrallah warned in a recent speech that the group's patience was wearing thin with what he described as repeated Israeli violations of Lebanese territory.
The incident took place Sunday night after a force of paratroopers came under fire near Ghajar. The troops returned fire, killing one Lebanese national and wounding two others. On Monday, two bags containing several kilograms of heroin and hashish which were left by the smugglers were discovered during an IDF search. The bags of drugs were transferred to the Israel Police.
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