"We consider that this operation happened at the appropriate timing for us and whenever there is another appropriate time there will be another operation," Hizb Allah Deputy Secretary-General Naeem Kassem told Reuters.

"Every Israeli assault will be confronted in the appropriate way. We will not allow the occupation to feel free, relaxed and reassured. It will be costly," he said.

Hizb Allah struck Israeli positions in the Shebaa Farms area near the border between Lebanon, Israel and the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights on Friday morning in retaliation for the death of one of its members, bombed in his car six days ago.

"This is part of the resistance and Israel and others can think what they want."

Hizb Allah Deputy Secretary-General Naeem Kassem

Hizb Allah had blamed Israel for the killing and vowed revenge, but Kassem said Friday's attack was not just a one-off response.

"This has not come as a response, as though we carry out an action for an Israeli action. This is part of the resistance and Israel and others can think what they want," Kassem said.

Hizb Allah, whose resistance ended Israel's 22-year occupation of south Lebanon in 2000, had not attacked Israeli troops in the Shebaa Farms since 21 January.

Before that, it had routinely attacked Israeli posts after the Israeli withdrawal from the south and kidnapped three Israeli soldiers there in October 2000.

Disputed territory

Hizb Allah, along with Lebanon and its power-broker Syria, says the Shebaa Farms is Lebanese territory, but the United Nations deems Israel's pullout from Lebanon complete and considers the area Israeli-occupied Syrian land.

Friday's attack drew Israeli air strikes on Lebanese border villages.

Kassem said the strike had inflicted casualties, although an Israeli military source earlier said there were none.

"There are a collection of losses because the hits were precise...Human losses, of course, because it was not the rocks being targeted but the humans," Kassem told Reuters.