UPDATED: 2 soldiers killed in Hezbollah attack on IDF patrol on the Lebanese border

IDF artillery pieces fire into Lebanon after an attack on an Israeli border patrol, Wednesday, January 28, 2015 (screen capture: Channel 2)

UPDATED: 2 soldiers were killed in the attack.ברוך דיין אמת

Breaking news from the north of Israel: an Israeli patrol near the Lebanese border came under anti-tank missile fire from over the border. Seven IDF soldiers have been reported as injured.

An Israeli army patrol came under anti-tank fire from Hezbollah operatives Wednesday in the northern Mount Dov region along the border with Lebanon. The IDF confirmed that there were casualties in the attack, but did not say how many soldiers were hurt. The army ruled out the possibility that a soldier had been kidnapped.

The incident took place in an area of the border that doesn’t have a fence. At the same time, and for over an hour after the attack, IDF positions in the area, as well as on nearby Mount Hermon, were hit with mortar shells.

Screenshot from Channel 2 of burning IDF vehicles from Hezbollah anti-tank fire

Israel responded to the attack with artillery strikes in southern Lebanon. Two Lebanese officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Israel targeted the border villages of Majidiyeh, Abbasiyeh and Kfar Chouba with at least 50 shells. A Spanish United Nations peacekeeper was killed, Lebanese reports said. Families living on the border of the villages fled further within, fearing they’d be hit, said the officials, who are based in south Lebanon.

Hezbollah said in a statement that a squad from the “fallen martyrs of the Quneitra brigade” had attacked the Israeli convoy in retaliation for an alleged Israeli airstrike near Quneitra, just over the border in Syria, last week that killed 12, including an Iranian general and a senior commander in the organization. The statement said it was a “first announcement,” alluding to the possibility of further attacks.

Six soldiers were evacuated to Ziv Hospital in nearby Safed in light to moderate condition, and other wounded were airlifted to Rambam Medical Center in Haifa, Channel 2 reported.

IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz was holding high-level consultations to mull further responses to the attack. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu cut short a tour of the Gaza Strip border region and headed to the Kirya military headquarters in Tel Aviv to join the meeting.

In an initial reaction to the incident, Netanyahu invoked Israel’s massive campaign against Hamas and other groups in the Gaza Strip over last summer: “Anyone who tries to challenge us along the northern border should come and see what happened here, not far from Sderot, in the Gaza Strip.”

The attack, launched from an area controlled by Hezbollah, comes after repeated threats by the group, which said it would retaliate against Israel for an airstrike earlier in January that killed its top commander in the Syrian Golan Heights, along with an Iranian general and 10 others

At least two rockets launched from Syrian territory landed in the Golan Heights Tuesday in an attack that Israeli defense officials attributed to Hezbollah. In response, Israel shelled Syrian army positions, and Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon issued a stern warning to Hezbollah and its patron Syrian President Bashar Assad.

From the Jerusalem Post’s report:

Following the anti-tank missile, mortar shells launched from Syria were fired at IDF positions on Har Dov and the Hermon Mountain. The army evacuated dozens of people from the Hermon Mountain. A home in the Israeli border town of Kafr Rajar was damaged by a mortar shell.

The IDF responded with combined artillery and air strikes on multiple targets in southern Lebanon. “We view Hezbollah as responsible,” Almoz said. “This is not necessarily the end of the IDF’s response,” he warned.

“We are continuing to manage this incident from the northern command,” he added. “The IDF Chief of Staff is holding an ongoing evaluation of incidents. We are in the midst of this incident.”

Hezbollah claimed responsibility  for the rocket attacks in northern Israel along the Lebanon border, according to a statement reported by Reuters on Wednesday.

The Lebanese terror group said its “Quneitra Martyrs Brigade” carried out the attack.

IDF digging vehicles searching for Hezbollah tunnels (via Jerusalem Post

IDF digging vehicles searching for Hezbollah tunnels (via Jerusalem Post

In the light of this attack and other recent threats from Hezbollah, the IDF has been digging near the northern border to expose any possible attack tunnels:

The IDF has begun drilling in search for possible tunnels near the norther community of Zir’it, which is situated close to the Lebanese border.

Military sources on Wednesday said the drilling was being carried out in response to a request by local residents to rule out the possibility of Hezbollah attacks in the area.

The sources have stressed that no tunnels have been located, and that it is not the first time that the army has launched underground searches in response to requests by local residents.

Arutz Sheva reports on northern residents’ fears of Hezbollah terror tunnels:

When asked about the digging noises earlier this month, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon (Likud) claimed “no tunnels have been located on the northern border. Noises that were heard beneath a home turned out to be a neighbor’s horse stomping with its hooves.”

But a video posted on YouTube recently, said to have been filmed at night in Shtula on the border with Lebanon, had many seriously doubting Ya’alon’s claims.

I’ll let you be the judge of this video.

I hope that any tunnels – if indeed they exist – will be quickly exposed and destroyed. It’s bad enough to consider what might have been in the south. That this threat should reign in the north too is too difficult to contemplate.

May the injured soldiers have a speedy recovery.

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6 Responses to UPDATED: 2 soldiers killed in Hezbollah attack on IDF patrol on the Lebanese border

  1. Aridog says:

    Time to go Bowling again? 🙂

    • anneinpt says:

      LOL… sort of… I’m finding it hard this time round. It’s like deja vu all over again, only this time I’m not on the front line itself.

  2. Pete says:

    I doubt that this strike by Hezbollah is anything more than a media punchline. They simply wanted to show a quick response, after the earlier statements that a “revenge” will occur for the Israeli airstrike (that killed the Iranian general). The primary Hezbollah response is still in the works.
    It is difficult to know if this will start a series of tit-for-tat military exchanges on the northern border. OR instead – if this will escalate into a full border war.

    It is worth asking: Surely the IDF would anticipate this outcome – when they launched the original air strike that killed the Iranian General (Jan 18, Golan strike)? Therefore, did Israel actually plan a new war with Hezbollah? Is this the timing for a new war? Or was the purpose of the strike for other reasons? Unfortunately, your military secrecy prevents us from ever knowing.

    Prayers for the families who lost sons in this incident.

    Pete, USA

    • anneinpt says:

      You’re asking the same questions that all of us here and most of the world are asking, and no one has any definite answers.

      One thing is 99.9% certain: Israel is not preparing to start a war with anyone, certainly not with Hezbollah who are a much more difficult enemy than Hamas. Israel is still picking up the pieces from the summer, and in any case, Israelis do not like war. It is not popular with the public unless we feel there was no choice.

      The general feeling is that last week’s Israeli strike on Hezbollah was a necessary evil because the operatives were spotted on or near the border actually laying bombs or preparing for a strike. I get the feeling that the IDF did not know there were Iranian officers there too, although I could well be wrong.

      Once the strike was done it was obvious that Hezbollah would retaliate and residents of the north were told to take precautions, prepare shelters etc.

      But also keep in mind that there has been a steady drizzle of rockets and mortars into northern Israel from Syria for months now, without any really strong Israeli response besides a quick bombing of a warehouse or buzzing a Lebanese village. Perhaps Hezbollah felt emboldened by the lack of Israeli reaction and approached the border. And then Israel attacked and then Hez responded and… here we go round again.

      I’m pretty sure too that none of these Israeli attacks were planned by Netanyahu as part of his election campaign. Israelis do not like military adventures, no matter how the media portray us. It would harm Bibi rather than help him if this descended into a war.

  3. Aridog says:

    I cannot resist. Here is some background on our two Heads of States’ backgrounds.. You should feel comforted by our special guy. What? No? Oh, wait…. 🙂

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