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Israel told the U.N. it would take all measures to defend itself after an exchange of fire with Hezbollah militants that killed a Spanish peacekeeper and two IDF soldiers.
"Israel will not stand by as Hezbollah targets Israelis," Israel's U.N. Ambassador Ron Prosor said Wednesday in a letter to the U.N. Security Council and Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, according to Reuters. "Israel will not accept any attacks on its territory and it will exercise its right to self-defense and take all necessary measures to protect its population."
Wednesday's clashes marked the biggest escalation of fighting since a 2006 war and raised the threat of a full-blown conflict.
Two Israeli soldiers were killed when Hezbollah fired a missile at a convoy of Israeli military vehicles at the Lebanon border. A U.N. spokesman and Spanish officials said the U.N. peacekeeper was killed as Israel responded with air strikes and artillery fire. Spain's U.N. Ambassador asked for a full investigation.
The United States strongly condemned Hezbollah’s attack, saying it was “in blatant violation of the cease-fire between Lebanon and Israel.”
“We are deeply concerned by reports of injuries and casualties on both sides,” said State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki, adding that Hezbollah “continues to incite violence and instability.”
Meanwhile, Israel said Thursday it received a message from Hezbollah that it was backing away from further violence.
Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon said Israel had heard through the U.N. peacekeeping force that Hezbollah was not interested in further escalation, but Israel Defense Forces remained ready to respond.
"I can't say whether the events are behind us," Yaalon said in a radio interview, according to Reuters. "Until the area completely calms down, the Israel Defense Forces will remain prepared and ready."
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Reuters contributed to this report.