Hezbollah set off a large bomb on the western section of Mount Dov on the Israel-Lebanon border on Monday, targeting two armored military vehicles that were clearing a road in the area.
The IDF responded with cross-border artillery fire at targets in Lebanon.
IDF Spokesman Brig.-Gen. Moti Almoz said two heavy armored vehicles, one of which was a D-9 bulldozer, were targeted in the Hezbollah attack, describing the explosive that was set off as “relatively large.”
“We have opened artillery fire, and created a smoke screen to cover the area. We are in control of the incident,” Almoz said.
There were no known injuries among IDF soldiers. Israeli farmers situated close to the Lebanese border have been moved back by the army. Beyond that, Almoz said, there are no special safety instructions for northern residents.
The army is in touch with security coordinators in northern communities, he added.
Lebanese media said Israeli shelling had hit the nearby town of Al-Wazzani and other areas, with reports of material damage but no serious injuries.
Witnesses said at least 10 Israeli shells had hit Al-Wazzani shortly after the blast.
A Reuters witness said the shelling had stopped later in the day. Al-Manar TV reported that calm had returned to the Shaba area. Hezbollah said in a statement that the explosive device had been detonated in the Shaba Farms area and carried out by a group whom it named after Lebanese terrorist Samir Kuntar, a commander killed in December in Damascus.
The UN peacekeeping force in Lebanon, UNIFIL, urged both sides to avoid an escalation, saying it had stepped up patrols on the ground after the incident. In a statement, head of mission Maj.-Gen. Luciano Portolano urged both sides “to exercise utmost restraint against any provocation.”
Later, Almoz posted a Facebook statement, saying that the IDF completed a special security assessment meeting headed by Chief of Staff Lt.- Gen. Gadi Eisenkot.
“We view the incident with severity, and we are on high alert for as long as necessary,” he said.
Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon held a security assessment meeting on Monday night at General Staff Headquarters in Tel Aviv. Ya’alon met with Eisenkot, Military Intelligence chief Maj.-Gen. Herzl Levi, head of the IDF Operations Branch Maj.-Gen. Nitzan Alon and other senior officers.
No statement was released at the end of the meeting.
Ambassador to the United Nations Danny Danon filed a formal complaint to the UN secretary-general.
Danon said the attack is a “flagrant violation” of UN Security Council Resolution 1701, which passed in 2006 and called for a disarmament of all armed groups in Lebanon, including Hezbollah.
It states that no armed forces other than the United Nations Interim Force In Lebanon and the Lebanese army will be posted south of the Litani River. The complaint, which was also filed to the Security Council, stated that “the United Nations must condemn the terrorist attack against Israel and demand that Lebanon stop all terrorist activities coming from its territory.”
Danon added that Israel will act strongly against any manifestations of violence against it. The attack comes after heightened tensions and mutual threats following the assassination of Kuntar.
Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon issued a warning last Thursday, saying that Israel’s enemies “know that if they just try to harm us, we will strike them powerfully, and we will do so in any way we find appropriate. From the air, sea or land.” Israel has advanced air capabilities to send its aircraft anywhere, and hit “those who constantly seek our harm, and to disrupt the lives of Israeli residents, whether through terrorism or through smuggling advanced weapons,” he said.
On Monday, Eisenkot said the military stands ready to face “any challenge” from the North, and Israel’s enemies will pay a dear price if they seek to undermine Israeli security. He spoke a day after Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah threatened for the second time in recent days to retaliate against the killing of Kuntar in an air-strike in Syria.
Relevant to your professional network? Please share on Linkedin