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Hezbollah and Israel engaged in a new exchange of cross-border fire on Wednesday morning, with the Iran-backed Lebanese armed group claiming to have caused multiple Israeli casualties.
Hezbollah said it fired an anti-tank missile at an Israeli position in response to the death of three of its members when Israel bombarded southern Lebanon on Monday, and warned that it would be “decisive in its response to the Israeli attacks targeting our country and the security of our people”.
The attack took place near the Israeli town of Arab Al Aramshe, opposite the Lebanese village of Dhayra, the Israeli military said. It responded by shelling the areas of Marwahein, Dhayra and Yarin in southern Lebanon.
The Israeli military did not report any casualties in the Hezbollah attack. Three people were injured in Dhayra, according to Moussa Shaman, the civil defence's head of disaster response for the area.
Ambulances rushing to the southern city of Sour were the only vehicles on the otherwise empty road to Dhayra. In the final villages and towns - the ones affected by the shelling - they were absent of residents and people, save for the men in camoflaged black clothes and sunglasses, who were likely associated with Hezbollah.
In Dhayra, multiple houses were badly damaged. Lebanon's civil defence personnel went from house to house, checking that no one was trapped or injured, shouting: "Is anyone here, is anyone here?"
Ali Mustafa Sweid, an off-duty soldier whose body and clothes were completely blackened by smoke after his house was bombarded, said his sister and brother were both injured.
After he put out a kitchen fire caused by the strike on his home, he tended to his injured siblings' legs until the ambulance came.
“The roof caved over our heads and the stairs fell. I don’t understand why they're hitting civilian's homes,” he said angrily.
“We didn’t expect them to hit civilians,” he told The National. “We didn’t do anything.”
He commented bitterly that Hezbollah’s retaliation had at least been on a military post. But Israel had hit civilian homes, breaking the unspoken rules of tit-for-tat military engagement that have been established in recent days.
At one point the Lebanese Army arrived on the area, urging people to clear the area as Israeli planes hovered overhead.
Unifil, the UN peacekeeping mission in Lebanon, denied reports that it had been told by Hezbollah to evacuate the area before the shelling started.
"In a conflict situation, rumours can run rampant. Unifil continues to be present and operational," spokesman Andrea Tenenti said.
"Our essential work continues and Unifil's chief Major General General Lazaro is in constant contact with authorities on both sides of the Blue Line urging restraint."
There have been four consecutive days of attacks across the border between Lebanon and Israel , which are technically at war, after Hamas, the Palestinian militant group governing the Gaza Strip, launched a co-ordinated attack in southern Israel on Saturday that killed more than 1,200 people, mostly civilians.
On Tuesday evening, bombs dropped by Israel lit up the skies over southern Lebanon as forces retaliated against Hezbollah targets.
Lebanon and Israel last fought a full-scale war in 2006, but the new outbreak of violence has raised fears about their border becoming a second front in the war between Israel and Hezbollah-allied Hamas.
Israel and the US have warned Hezbollah against getting further involved.
The Israeli army is "prepared for any scenario", spokesman Daniel Hagari told reporters.
"Hezbollah is observing what Israel is doing in Gaza, it sees the volume of the destruction. Hezbollah sees this and understands," he said.