The Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) reported that they spotted and stopped a Hezbollah terrorist attack on Monday afternoon near Mount Dov, also known as Shebaa Farms. Shebaa Farms, which lies along the border with Lebanon, has been an area contested by Hezbollah for the past 20 years.
The Hezbollah cell, which numbered three or five Hezbollah fighters, had crossed the border, known as the “Blue Line” into Israeli territory. They were identified by the IDF, who opened fire on them and subsequently forced them into Lebanon. The IDF has not reported the number of potential Hezbollah fighters casualties.
The Hezbollah-affiliated Al Mayadeen television channel reported that the attackers fired an antitank missile on Israeli troops. Yet, this was countered by IDF which stated that the Hezbollah operatives did not fire any anti-tank missile at their troops. No IDF or civilian casualties were suffered, according to the IDF.
Hezbollah then released a contrary statement saying that there had been no operation along the border and that nervous IDF troops, fearful of a coming Hezbollah retaliation operation had fired on empty fields, making up the entire incident.
“The Islamic Resistance confirms no clash or exchange of fire occurred on its end during today’s incidents until this moment. Instead, all came from one side, that of the fearful, worried, and nervous Israeli enemy,” their statement said. Hezbollah vowed retaliation but stated the “when and where” would not be discussed for obvious reasons.
This incident comes after several tense days during which, the IDF, in anticipation of a Hezbollah terrorist attack and after a senior Hezbollah officer was killed in an airstrike near Damascus airport last week, had been beefing up its northern border area.
Hezbollah had warned Israel it might retaliate for the airstrike that killed one of its members last week. And yesterday’s crash of an Israeli drone in southern Lebanon “during operational activities” may have pushed the terror group to respond.
Local residents in the area reported hearing explosions in the north and that they were ordered by the IDF to shelter in place, but that order was rescinded an hour later. It was also reported that Israeli Air Force (IAF) aircraft were seen in the area as IDF artillery responded by shelling targets in southern Lebanon.
Speaking in the Knesset, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu cut short his meetings and said the government was closely following developments. He and Defense Minister Benny Gantz headed to the Defense Ministry to monitor the situation.
“The IDF is prepared for any scenario. We are active in all arenas for the security of Israel — both close to our borders and far from them,” Netanyahu said. “We are constantly monitoring what is happening on our northern border. When I say ‘we,’ that means myself, the defense minister, the IDF Chief-of-Staff – all of us together.”
Gantz said that the Iranians were attempting to get a “chokehold” in northern Israel. He warned them to be aware of the IDF’s response. “Whoever does so will discover a determined and alert military that is ready to protect the citizens of Israel and its sovereignty.”
“I reiterate — the responsibility lies with the State of Syria and the State of Lebanon for any action that is taken from their territory.”
The U.N. peacekeeping force in Lebanon (UNFIL) said its commander Maj. Gen. Stefano Del Col was in contact with both Israel and Hezbollah to assess the situation and decrease tensions.
“He urges maximum restraint,” the UNIFIL statement said.