by: Ilse Strauss
Monday, 2 September 2019 | The announcement came late yesterday afternoon. Shortly after 4:00 p.m., Iran’s Lebanon-based terror proxy Hezbollah made good on its vows of revenge against the Jewish state, firing three sophisticated Russian-made Kornet anti-tank missiles at an Israel Defense Forces (IDF) base and a nearby military jeep in northern Israel. There were a number of confirmed hits.
The terror group was quick to celebrate the attack, describing it as payback for an Israeli preemptive strike in Syria overnight on August 24 that thwarted a Tehran-initiated plan to bomb northern Israel with armed drones. The Israeli strike killed two Hezbollah terrorists. “At 16:15,” the terror group bragged, it “destroyed an Israeli military vehicle near the border, killing and wounding those inside.”
The boast proved premature. While Hezbollah commended itself on its successful attempt to murder and maim, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced that the terror group had failed. “We have no casualties,” he clarified, “not even a scratch.”
Retaliation from Israel was swift and severe. Having taken Hezbollah’s threats of revenge seriously, the IDF was on high alert and answered the terror group’s attack almost immediately. According to the army, artillery cannons and an attack helicopter fired nearly 100 shells at Hezbollah targets in southern Lebanon, including the cell responsible for the attack.
As tensions threatened to escalate and turn Israel’s northern border into a war zone yet again, Jerusalem ordered residents within 2.4 miles (4 km) of the Lebanon border to stay inside and open their bomb shelters. The military also advised against travelling on open roads in the area and prohibited any activity, including agriculture, near the border, the Times of Israel reported.
For a few anxious hours, the nightmare of a third Lebanon war seemed more like a reality than a bad dream.
However, by nightfall a tense calm had returned to the Israeli–Lebanon border. While plumes of smoke and the arid smell of battle still hung in the air, the ominous scream of shells and missiles had ceased. IDF spokesman, Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus said that the army considered the “tactical event on the ground” to be over. Civilians were told that it was once again safe to leave their homes.
Following a quiet evening, the situation on Israel’s northern border remains tense but calm. According to Lebanon’s National News Agency, Lebanese Prime Minister Sa’ad Hariri has reached out to the international community, particularly the United States and France, to quell the threatening storm. United Nations (UN) peacekeepers have purportedly been in contact with both sides to help defuse the tensions. This morning the head of the UN’s Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), the peacekeeping force stationed in southern Lebanon following the Second Lebanon War, confirmed that a “general calm” has been restored following a “serious incident” that violated the resolution that brought an end to the 2006 conflict between Israel and Hezbollah.
While numerous international role players are making an effort to restore calm to the volatile region, Hezbollah’s masters in Tehran seem to be the lone voice singing the praises of their terror proxy. According to the Times of Israel, Ali Shamkhani, secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, boasted that yesterday’s attack stands as proof of the Islamic Republic and its terror proxy’s bravery to take on Israel and the United States.
Israeli leaders remain adamant that the responsibility for peace rests with the Jewish state’s enemies. Peace will be met with peace. Violence, on the other hand, will be met with force. “All those who seek to harm us should know that we are ready and willing to defend Israel’s citizens wherever they are, without hesitation,” Israeli President Reuven Rivlin said in a statement. “We also say to them that we are prepared and do not want to show just how well-prepared we are. You should know that the border can only be quiet if it is on both of its sides.”
For his part, Netanyahu said, “We are consulting about the next steps. I have ordered that we be prepared for any scenario.”
Hezbollah’s threats of revenge began after the largely covert war between Jerusalem and Tehran took yet another step from the shadows when Israel conducted the August 24 preemptive strike in Syria to thwart the Iranian terror attack on northern Israel and killed two Hezbollah terrorists involved in that plan. Tehran’s plan of attack, which entailed launching explosive-laden killer drones into Israel’s Golan Heights, was reportedly payback for Israel stepping up its efforts to prevent the mullahs from setting up a Shiite military hegemony spanning from Iran through Iraq and Syria to Lebanon, and increasing its scope of strikes on Iranian-linked targets from Syria to Iraq over the past month.
A day later, two drones crashed into the southern suburbs of Beirut, an area dominated by Iran’s Lebanese terror proxy, Hezbollah, followed by a strike on a base belonging to a Palestinian terrorist group in Lebanon near the Syrian border. While nobody has claimed responsibility for the strikes in Lebanon, Israel’s enemies hold the Jewish state responsible.
Head of Hezbollah, Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah, threatened to settle the score with Israel. “I tell the Israeli army,” he raged, “wait for our response.” Following a week of vowing bloody revenge, the man leading the terror group upped the ante on Saturday night, vowing that the attack would come in 72 hours. Nasrallah remained true to his word.
Hezbollah’s promised revenge strike has now come and gone, leaving the Jewish state largely unscathed. Yet Israel is not letting its guard down just yet. While the immediate danger might be over, the looming threat of Hezbollah on Israel’s northern border remains. Israelis can also not help but wonder: does yesterday’s attack comprise the full extent of the terror group’s retaliation or does Hezbollah have more up its sleeve? For this reason, the IDF remains vigilant and “will continue to keep a high-threat level—both defensive and offensive—for a wide variety of scenarios.”
Posted on September 2, 2019
Source: (Bridges for Peace, September 2, 2019)
Photo Credit: Silvio Pinco/bridgesforpeace.com
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