Cautious border calm as Hezbollah, Israel urged to show restraint

No fighting overnight as Lebanon’s prime minister calls on US and France to ‘intervene’ to prevent escalation.

A cautious calm has returned to the southern Lebanese border amid international calls for restraint after Hezbollah and Israel exchanged fire following a week of tensions.

Lebanon‘s Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri on Sunday held phone conversations with the top US and French diplomats, urging them to “intervene” to prevent the situation from escalating into a full-fledged war, his office said.

In an anticipated response to an Israeli air raid last week that killed two of its fighters in Syria, as well as a suspected Israeli drone attack on the group’s stronghold in southern Beirut, Hezbollah on Sunday fired a number of anti-tank missiles at an Israeli army base and vehicles near the border.

The missiles hit several targets in Israel’s border town of Avivim, the Israeli army said, adding it responded by shelling 100 targets inside Lebanon.

According to Hezbollah, the missiles launched from Lebanon destroyed a tank, killing and wounding those inside it. Israel, however, said the attack did not lead to any casualties on its side.

In a statement sent to Al Jazeera, the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) mission, which is present in the border region between the two countries, called both sides to exercise restraint.

“The head of mission is in close contact with the parties, urging maximum restraint and asking to seize any activities that are endangering the cessation of hostilities,” UNIFIL said.

There was no fighting overnight, while Israeli shelling following the missile strike had died down on Monday, with the Israeli military saying the latest round of fighting with Hezbollah appeard eto be over.

Al Jazeera’s Harry Fawcett, reporting from northern Israel, said that although the situation had calmed down, the possibility of further escalation still existed.

“On both sides, the core issues remain in play,” he said.

“Lebanon says that Israel is routinely going through its airspace to launch attacks into Syria. On the Israeli side, there is expanding Iranian operation inside Lebanon and that Iran and Hezbolalh are working to create existing missiles into weaponry,” Fawcett.added.

“So this particular conflagration seems to have now died down but there is always the possibility and even the likelihood of more down the line,” he added.