Nick Blanford, The Times Correspondent in Beirut, is on the border between Lebanon and Israel, where two Israeli soldiers were abducted by Hezbollah this morning, prompting a massive military response.

"This morning’s Hezbollah raid has puzzled many Lebanese people as well as satisfying their supporters. The obvious explanation as to why the group has decided to open a second front with Israel is that it wants to stand in solidarity with the Palestinians and put pressure on Israel with their own hostage negotiation.

"So in that sense, the capture of two Israeli soldiers fits perfectly with Hezbollah’s ideological goals but on a practical level, the group is also taking an enormous risk. Hezbollah is under an awful lot of domestic pressure from Lebanese who support its political movement but are unhappy that it remains an armed organisation. Today’s violence has invited a huge response from Israel.

"That said, I’ve spent the morning driving through Shia villages in southern Lebanon where there has been a feeling of happiness and celebration. Children are flying yellow Hezbollah flags and cheering supporters have set up impromptu roadside stops to hand out sweets, a traditional gesture of celebration.

Right now I’m in the town of Marjayoun, just two kilometres from the Israeli border. From where I am standing I can see an Israeli town and tanks shelling. There is the constant boom of distant artillery, which is falling into a nearby valley. There is smoke coming from a hill known to be a prominent Hezbollah base.

"It’s very hard to know what will happen next, the ball is in Israel’s court. For the last six years there has been an uneasy understanding across the Israeli-Lebanese border: that any Hezbollah attack would invite a huge Israeli response and then a hail of Hezbollah rockets that would disrupt life in northern Israel.

"The mutual deterrent has been enough to guarantee a degree of calm. Now Israel has to decide whether it is going to tear up the unwritten rules that have preserved that peace or escalate the situation further. The next 12 hours or so are going to be vital."