JERUSALEM (AP) — Israeli troops opened fire Wednesday on two suspected militants as they were trying to plant an explosive device along the frontier with Syria, the military said, blaming the incident on the Lebanese militant Hezbollah group.
The military claimed the attackers were affiliated with Hezbollah, the Iranian-backed Shiite group committed to Israel's destruction. However, it would not explain how it knew of the men's ties with the group.
"Hits were identified" following the shooting in the Israel-controlled Golan Heights, the military said. Hezbollah officials were not immediately available for comment. Israel and Hezbollah battled to a stalemate during a monthlong war in the summer of 2006.
Tensions between the two foes spiked last week, when Israeli aircraft struck Hezbollah positions inside Lebanon. Hezbollah said it would retaliate but it was not clear if Wednesday's incident was related to that threat.
Attacks toward Israel from the Syrian border have been unusual, even during the past three years of the civil war next door as rebels seek to overthrow the rule of Syrian President Bashar Assad. For the past year, Hezbollah has been embroiled in Syria's conflict, openly dispatching its fighters to battle alongside Assad-loyal forces.
Israel has had to contend with a minor spillover from the war, with sporadic fire from the fighting along the frontier area hitting Israel on occasion, sparking fires and spreading panic but not causing serious damage. Israel views much of the fire as errant, but has responded on a number of occasions.
Israel says Hezbollah has used the fighting in Syria as a cover to transfer weapons to Lebanon. Israeli leaders have repeatedly vowed to prevent Hezbollah from obtaining sophisticated arms that could alter the current balance of power.
Israel has carried out a series of covert airstrikes in Syria over the past year that targeted shipments of weapons believed to be bound for Hezbollah.
Associated Press writer Diaa Hadid contributed to this report from Beirut, Lebanon.