28/Jan/2015 // 264 Viewers
JERUSALEM — At least one Israeli military vehicle was hit by an antitank missile in a disputed area along the Lebanese border on Wednesday, according to the Israeli military, in what appeared to be the most serious flare-up in the area in years.
The military said there were casualties among the soldiers, but did not provide details. There may also have been some civilian casualties, according to the military, but the situation was not immediately clear.
Hezbollah claimed responsibility for the attack, saying in a statement that its Quneitra Martyrs Brigade carried it out at 11:35 a.m.
The attack on Wednesday was the latest in a string of recent events along Israel’s northern frontiers that have sharply escalated tensions between Israel and Hezbollah in Lebanon, and that have raised the risk of broader confrontation.
About an hour after the initial attack on the military convoy, several
mortar shells were fired at Israeli military positions in the border
area and on Mount Hermon in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, without
Israeli military said it responded with combined aerial and ground
strikes at what it called “Hezbollah operational positions” in Lebanon,
and said that it might take further action.
these moments, the I.D.F. is responding to events in the north,” Prime
Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Twitter, referring to the Israel
Defense Forces. “We will not allow terror elements to disrupt the lives
of our citizens and threaten their security. We will know how to respond
with force to whoever challenges us.”
Col. Peter Lerner, a spokesman for the Israeli military, described the
events as “a severe escalation on our northern border.” Military leaders
convened in Tel Aviv to assess the situation.
the early afternoon, the two sides were still firing rockets or
artillery at each other, the National News Agency of Lebanon reported.
Witnesses in southern Lebanon said that Israeli ordnance had landed on
their side of the border, extending from Shebaa to the south. The
Lebanese news channel Al Mayadeen also reported that at least eight
Israeli rockets had hit southern Lebanon.
National News Agency said that a Spanish soldier serving in the United
Nations peacekeeping force on the border was wounded when Israeli shells
hit Abbasiyeh, a village in southern Lebanon. Al Manar, Hezbollah’s
news channel, reported that the Spanish soldier was killed.
National News Agency also said that an Israeli soldier had been
captured from the convoy that was hit in the initial attack. Israeli
officials said none of their soldiers were missing.
hardline foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman, told his Chinese
counterpart during a visit to Beijing that Israel should “change its
approach” and respond to the missile attack “in a very harsh and
disproportionate manner,” according to a statement on his Facebook page.
The hostilities have been building for days. On Tuesday ,
at least two rockets fired from Syria struck the Israeli-controlled
portion of the Golan Heights, without causing injury. Israel responded
immediately with artillery toward the suspected launching sites in
Syria, and overnight it carried out airstrikes in Syrian territory in
areas under the control of the Syrian Army.
defense minister, Moshe Yaalon, said the airstrikes were “a clear
message that we will not tolerate any fire toward Israeli territory and
any violation of our sovereignty, and we will respond with force and
determination,” according to a statement from his office.
exchange came nine days after a deadly airstrike, attributed to Israel,
on a convoy in the Syrian portion of the Golan Heights. The airstrike
killed five fighters from Hezbollah , including the son of the group’s slain military commander, Imad Mughniyeh, and an Iranian general .
Israeli military commentators said that Hezbollah and its Iranian
patron had been building an infrastructure in the Syrian Golan Heights
with which to attack Israel.
which fought a monthlong war against Israel in 2006, is now fighting in
Syria on the side of President Bashar al-Assad’s government.
Since that strike, the Israeli Army has been on high alert in expectation of a revenge attack. A top Iranian commander had warned Israel to prepare for a “shattering thunderbolt.”
military analysts predicted that Hezbollah would hit back against
Israeli soldiers to exact revenge, but that it would avoid a full-scale
war — a more likely outcome if it directed attacks at Israeli civilians.
several retired Israeli military generals said that Wednesday’s
exchange was more serious than previous ones, and that it might be
difficult to avoid further escalation.
tension in the north, it’s a very tricky and I would say flammable
situation,” Israel Ziv, a reserve major general who once led the army’s
operations directorate, said in a call with international journalists.
“It’s very clear that, very easily from events and retaliation, we will
find ourselves in a war that does not belong to Israel.”
Marom, a former commander in the north who lives in the Golan Heights,
said both Israel and Hezbollah wanted to avoid another war, but that it
may be impossible.
serious incident with casualties calls for a response,” Mr. Marom said
on Israel Radio. “Even if both sides don’t want it, we could deteriorate
to a very difficult reality.”
escalation is taking place against the background of an election
campaign in Israel. Mr. Netanyahu, who is viewed by many Israelis as
having strong security credentials, is competing for a fourth term in
attack took place in the Shebaa Farms, an area known as Mount Dov in
Israel. Lebanon considers it occupied by Israel, and Syria also claims
it. Israel captured the area, along with the adjacent Golan Heights, in
the 1967 war and later annexed both regions in a move not recognized by
the United Nations.
had echoes of the cross-border raid by Hezbollah in 2006 that
precipitated the war, which left more than 1,000 Lebanese and roughly
160 Israelis dead. At the time, Hezbollah fired an antitank missile at
an Israeli border patrol. Three soldiers were killed and two were seized
and taken into Lebanon. Five more Israeli soldiers were killed as they
remains of the captive soldiers were returned to Israel in a prisoner
exchange in 2008. Israeli officials concluded that both soldiers had
been badly wounded in the initial ambush and had probably not survived.
before Wednesday’s attack, a Hezbollah fighter in the Bekaa Valley of
Lebanon said by telephone that residents were storing food, fearing an