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Israel thwarts infiltration bid from Lebanon, killing four: army

A shell fired by Israeli artillery explodes over the Lebanese village of Dhayra near the border on Monday
— Jerusalem (AFP)

Israeli troops killed four militants attempting to enter its territory from Lebanon on Tuesday, the army said, as tensions run high on the border between the two countries.

Israel has traded fire with Hezbollah and allied Palestinian militants in Lebanon on a near-daily basis since October 8, the day after Hezbollah's Palestinian ally Hamas launched a massive attack on Israel that killed more than 1,400 people, most of them civilians.

The Israeli army, whose reprisal strikes on Hamas in the Gaza Strip have killed more than 2,700 people, also mostly civilians, said its forces opened fire on militants who had attempted to cross the northern border with Lebanon in the morning.

"Observation troops spotted a terrorist squad attempting to infiltrate the security fence with Lebanon and plant an explosive device," the army said in a statement, adding "four terrorists were killed".

Later, anti-tank missiles targeted Israeli forces in two locations, with Israeli tanks and artillery retaliating against the "origins of the fire" and Hezbollah military posts, the army said.

Shots "fired from a light weapon" also targeted several Israeli military positions near Lebanon, it added.

Hezbollah said in a statement afterwards that its fighters had targeted "a Zionist tank in the Ramim barracks" at noon.

Two Israeli military reservists and a civilian were wounded in one of the attacks, the army said.

Earlier the military said it had targeted the Iran-backed Hezbollah with overnight air strikes on southern Lebanon.

Since the start of the war triggered by Hamas's unprecedented attack on Israel on October 7, clashes on the Israel-Lebanon border have left more than 10 people dead on the Lebanese side.

Most of the dead have been combatants, but they also include a Reuters journalist and two civilians.

On the Israeli side, at least three people have been killed.

- 'Grave mistake' -

Lebanon's state-owned National News Agency said areas along the western section of the border had come under "continuous" bombardment overnight.

Lebanese firefighters deploy near the  southern village of Dhayra after it came under Israeli bombardment on Monday

Homes in the village of Dhayra were hit, resulting in casualties, NNA reported, without elaborating on how many villagers had been wounded or whether any had been killed.

"The enemy (Israel) used phosphorus bombs and targeted civilians," the news agency said.

The Israeli army denied it had been using the incendiary weapon white phosphorus in either Gaza or south Lebanon, after Human Rights Watch accused it of doing so last week.

It did not immediately comment on Tuesday's NNA report.

The international community fears the opening of a second front in the conflict, with Hezbollah joining Hamas in the fight against Israel.

Israel has begun evacuating thousands of residents from 28 locations in the north.

In remarks Tuesday morning, the Israeli army's chief spokesman said a new front with Hezbollah would harm Lebanon.

"We're very alert and vigilant in the north, if Hezbollah makes a grave mistake, we'll respond with huge force," Daniel Hagari said. "Lebanon should ask itself if it wants to risk its country for ISIS (Islamic State group) terrorists in Gaza."