military convoy along the border with Lebanon, the army said in a statement. "Earlier today an anti-tank missile hit a (military) vehicle… killing two soldiers and wounding an additional seven," it said. Local media reported that none of the injured were in a life-threatening condition.
The army said an anti-tank missile hit a military vehicle in the Israeli-occupied Shebaa Farms area on the border with Lebanon and close to the ceasefire line with Syria.
Mortar shells also struck another military position on nearby Mount Hermon, the army said, without saying whether anyone was injured. Hezbollah quickly claimed responsibility for the attack, saying it had "targeted an Israeli military convoy in the Shebaa Farms composed of several vehicles which was transporting several Zionist soldiers and officers."
"There were several casualties in the enemy's ranks," Hezbollah said in a statement broadcast on the group's Al-Manar television channel. Al-Manar reported that Hezbollah - which said the attack was carried out by its "Quneitra martyrs" in reference to a deadly Israeli air strike on the nearby Golan - targeted nine Israeli military vehicles and had killed "a large number" of troops.
Shortly after the hit on the convoy, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned that the Jewish state would respond to any attack. "The IDF (army) is ready to act with force on any front," Netanyahu said. Israel's chief of staff Lieutenant General Benny Gantz convened an emergency session of his top brass, the army said. Lebanese security sources told AFP that Israeli tanks began shelling areas of southeastern Lebanon shortly after the attack on the convoy.
Two sources told AFP that more than a dozen shells had been fired on Lebanese border villages and that Israeli warplanes were flying over the area. There was no immediate information on casualties. "At least 15 shells have been fired against five villages in the south," one security source said, adding that Majidiyeh village was hardest hit. Another security source said the Israeli army was firing a shell into the area about every two minutes, and was using artillery as well as tanks.
The Lebanese army is deployed in all five villages that were shelled, but it was not immediately clear whether Hezbollah had a presence there. Images broadcast from the scene on Israeli television showed large plumes of white smoke billowing across the area. Police sealed off several roads close to the border in northern Israel. The fresh exchanges came after the Israeli air strike on the Syrian sector of the Golan Heights killed six Hezbollah fighters and an Iranian general on January 18.
The day before the raid, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah threatened to retaliate against Israel for its repeated strikes on targets in Syria and boasted the movement was stronger than ever. Israel occupied parts of Lebanon for 22 years until 2000 and the two countries are still technically at war.
In 2006, Israel fought a bloody war against Hezbollah that killed more than 1,200 people in Lebanon, mostly civilians, and some 160 Israelis, mostly soldiers.-Agencies