An Israeli official and Lebanese sources have said Hezbollah carried out an operation along the Lebanese-Israeli frontier but the Shia armed group has denied it had done so.

Smoke rises from the Israeli-occupied Shebaa Farms area as seen from Marjayoun village in southern Lebanon, July 27, 2020.
Smoke rises from the Israeli-occupied Shebaa Farms area as seen from Marjayoun village in southern Lebanon, July 27, 2020. (Reuters)

Lebanon's Hezbollah group has denied involvement in combat at the Lebanon-Israel border after the Jewish state said it had repelled an attempt by the group to penetrate its territory.

Hezbollah "confirms that it did not take part in any clash and did not open fire in today's events until now," it said in a statement on Monday.

"All that the enemy's media is claiming about thwarting an infiltration operation from Lebanon into occupied Palestine ... is completely false." 

The Shia group denied its forces had tried to infiltrate the Lebanese-Israeli frontier or that it had engaged in clashes in the Israel-occupied Shebaa Farms area.

Hezbollah said Israeli claims "are not true at all, and an attempt to invent illusive victories."

The group's statement was issued after an Israeli military spokesman said Israeli troops had "thwarted an infiltration attempt by a Hezbollah terror squad" across a boundary with Israeli-occupied territory.

Warning of future attack

Lebanese sources had told Reuters news agency that Hezbollah carried out an operation against the Israeli military, days after a member of the group was killed in an Israeli attack in Syria.

Hezbollah said in its statement that the incident was "one-sided" and that Israeli forces had "moved nervously on the ground" due to a heightened state of alert.

"There were no clashes or opening of fire from our side in today's events," it said, adding, "Our response to the martyrdom of Ali Kamel (Mohsen) ... will surely come."

READ MORE: Lessons from the assassinations of Soleimani and a Hezbollah commander

Border shelling

Earlier, Lebanese sources familiar with the border operation told Reuters news agency that Hezbollah carried out an operation against the Israeli army in the occupied Shebaa Farms area.

They said the operation was launched in response to an Israeli attack in Syria in which a Hezbollah fighter was killed last week.

Hezbollah fired a guided missile at an Israeli vehicle in an attack in the Shebaa Farms area, sources said.

"Shortly after they crossed the Blue Line, we engaged," Israeli military spokesman said, adding the squad, numbering between three and five militants, had crossed back into Lebanon.

He said there were no Israeli casualties. Lebanese sources said there were no Hezbollah casualties.

The Israeli military also shelled Kfar Shuba town in Lebanon, in the vicinity of the Ruwaysat al Alam area inside the occupied Shebaa Farms, a Lebanese official agency said.

Israel's N12 TV News said the military had foiled an attack by Hezbollah. 

A Reuters witness in Lebanon counted dozens of Israeli shells hitting the Shebaa Farms area, landing near an Israeli position. Fires were burning and smoke was rising from the area.

"Gunfire was exchanged between an Israeli military unit, lying in ambush, and Hezbollah gunmen who attempted to cross the border," TRT World's Mustafa Fatih Yavuz, reporting from occupied East Jerusalem, said.

He said Israel can't afford to widen the conflict "because of economic and coronavirus crisis." 

"There is absolutely no appetite for war in Lebanon," journalist Imogen Kimber, reporting from Beirut, said.

"The economic crisis is completely chronic and people are desperate for improvement in their lives."

READ MORE: Is Hezbollah using Covid-19 assistance to subvert the Lebanese government? 

UN calls for calm

There was no immediate official comment on the nature of the fighting, but a Lebanese TV station loyal to the Shia group said Israel had been shelling targets across the border.  

The UN peacekeeping force in Lebanon, known as UNFIL, said its commander Major General Stefano Del Col was in contact with both parties to assess the situation and decrease tensions.

"He urges maximum restraint," the UNIFIL statement said.

Netanyahu warns of consequences

"Lebanon and Hezbollah will bear the responsibility for any attack from Lebanese territory," Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in broadcast remarks, shortly before the reports of the incident.

Following the killing of two Hezbollah members in Damascus last August, Hassan Nasrallah, the group’s leader, vowed it would respond if Israel killed any more of its fighters in the country.

Hezbollah has deployed fighters in Syria as part of Iranian-backed efforts to support regime leader Bashar al Assad in a conflict that spiraled out of protests against his rule in 2011.

Israel sees the presence of Hezbollah and its ally Iran in Syria as a strategic threat and has mounted hundreds of raids on Iranian-linked targets there. 

It captured and occupied the Golan Heights from Syria in the 1967 Middle East war. 

Both sides fought a war in July 2006, after Hezbollah captured two Israeli soldiers in a cross-border raid. 

Nearly 1,200 Lebanese, mostly civilians, died in the July war and 158 people died in Israel, mostly soldiers.

READ MORE: Israel closes Golan airspace after air strikes shake Syria's Damascus

Source: TRTWorld and agencies