Israel says Hezbollah not interested in escalating violence
Israeli Defence Minister Moshe Yaalon attends a news conference in Tel Aviv - REUTERS
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JERUSALEM: Israel said Thursday it received a message from the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah that it was backing away from further violence, a day after the worst deadly clashes in years erupted along the border.

The Israel-Lebanon frontier, where two Israeli soldiers and a Spanish peacekeeper were killed in an exchange of fire between Hezbollah and Israel, appeared quiet early Thursday.

Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon said Israel had received a message from a U.N. peacekeeping force in Lebanon that Hezbollah was not interested in further escalation.

“Indeed, a message was received,” he said. “There are lines of coordination between us and Lebanon via UNIFIL (the U.N. force)and such a message was indeed received from Lebanon.”

In Beirut, Hezbollah officials could not immediately be reached for comment.

“I can’t say whether the events are behind us,” Yaalon added in a separate radio interview. “Until the area completely calms down, the Israel Defense Forces will remain prepared and ready.”

The Israeli soldiers were killed when Hezbollah fired five missiles at a convoy of Israeli military vehicles. The attack appeared to be in retaliation for a Jan. 18 Israeli airstrike in southern Syria that killed several Hezbollah members and an Iranian general.

The peacekeeper in southern Lebanon was killed as Israel responded with airstrikes and artillery fire, a U.N. spokesman and Spanish officials said.

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