The Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) reported that it observed and killed an armed group of four people who approached the Israeli border fence with Syria and planted explosives.
Maglan Special Forces troops had the group under surveillance. The SF operators opened fire with machineguns and called in an unidentified aircraft that fired a missile at the individuals killing all four after they planted the explosives, IDF Spokesperson Hidai Zilberman said in a statement Monday morning.
“I believe in the coming days we’ll know better about [sic] what organization they were a part of,” Zilberman said.
The IDF said that troops who searched the area afterward found a weapon, as well as a backpack with several more explosives that were ready to be used.
Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus, a spokesman for the IDF, said that Israeli troops had earlier been alerted following “irregular” activity in the Golan Heights border area with Syria. The IDF did not say if the individuals were from Hezbollah or from any of the Iranian-led militias, however, Conricus did say that the Israeli government holds the Syrian government responsible for the incident.
The IDF said that it is “neutralizing” the area that the group had planted the explosives in. It will work to recover and disarm the explosives to determine which organization the group belonged to.
The Times of Israel reported that Israeli troops had been watching the group of four for several hours. Female soldiers using powerful security cameras known as “tatzpitaniyot” had them under surveillance.
The group had been under watch since 8 p.m and then when they crossed the actual border between Syria and Israel but not the security fence some three hours later. Seeing that the group was armed, the Maglan Special Forces troops, who had been in the area, were alerted.
The IDF has been watching the border area closely and has reported a number of cases of people approaching the border “pretending to be innocent shepherds” but are believed by the IDF to be carrying out reconnaissance operations ahead of a planned attack.
Because of these recent incidents, the IDF has deployed the Maglan SF team to the area to provide a quick reaction force should any attack occur.
Syria’s state-run SANA news agency has not reported the Israeli strike nor has there been any acknowledgment or statement from Damascus.
The IDF released a video of the incident on Twitter.
…and the moment we stopped them.
We will continue to defend Israel's borders from all enemy threats. pic.twitter.com/bQPGPiJFlg
— Israel Defense Forces (@IDF) August 3, 2020
This latest incident comes amid heightened tensions in and around the Golan Heights after a recent airstrike, reportedly conducted by Israel, killed a Hezbollah fighter in Syria. Following the airstrike, the Israeli side of the Golan Heights was hit by explosives fired from Syria. Israel then responded by attacking Syrian military positions and sending an additional infantry battalion to the Northern Command in the area.
Last week, Hezbollah fighters crossed the border around Mount Dov, known in Israel as Shebaa Farms, to carry out an attack, but Israeli fire drove them back. While Hezbollah officially denied that any attack took place, they still claim that their revenge for their fallen fighter, killed in the airstrike, is imminent.