Hezbollah: We will respond to Israeli strike at the 'right time and place'

Shi'ite organization, which had denied Israeli strike on Syria-Lebanon border, says IAF bombing sorties targeted base, causing no injuries.

February 26, 2014 11:48
3 minute read.
Lebanon's Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah addresses his supporters, Nov. 14 2013

Nasrallah Nov 14 2013 370. (photo credit: REUTERS)

Hezbollah will respond to what it says was an Israeli air strike that hit one of its bases on the border with Syria Monday night, the Lebanese Islamist group said on Wednesday.

“The new aggression is a blatant assault on Lebanon, its sovereignty and its territory.... The resistance [Hezbollah] will choose the time, place and proper way to respond to it,” the group said in a statement read out by a news presenter on its Al-Manar TV station.

The resistance [Hezbollah] will choose the time, place and proper way to respond to it,” the group said in a statement read out by a news presenter on its Al-Manar TV station.

The delayed reaction came after Hezbollah indirectly referred to the attack on Tuesday while mentioning the Palestinian struggle against Israel.

The strike, which Israel has not claimed responsibility for, hit a base near the Bekaa Valley village of Janta, Hezbollah said. It denied reports that the strike targeted artillery or rocket bases, and said there were no casualties. However, Lebanon’s The Daily Star reported on Wednesday that four Hezbollah members had been killed.

Security sources told the paper that the attack targeted two trucks, one of them carrying missiles and the other a missile launcher. The weapons were headed to a Hezbollah warehouse in Lebanon, they said.

Lebanese security sources said they believed the attack took place on Syrian soil, but Hezbollah’s reference to Lebanese “sovereignty” suggested it took place on Lebanon’s side of the border.

Israeli planes have struck areas on the Syrian side several times in the past two years. If the location is confirmed, this would be the first air strike on Lebanese soil since the Syrian revolt began in 2011.

“We at Hezbollah wish to stress the following. First, nothing that has been said in the media about targeting artillery or rocket sites, or the martyrdom of a member of the resistance, or anything else, has any truth to it at all. Second, this new aggression is a blatant assault on Lebanon, its sovereignty and its territory, not only on the resistance – it reinforces the adversarial nature of the Zionists and it requires an honest and clear [commitment] from everyone,” the statement said.

An Israeli drone flew over Lebanon on Tuesday, entering the country’s airspace at 9:10 p.m. in the evening, Lebanon’s National News Agency reported on Wednesday.

The Lebanese-Syrian border area is frequently used by smugglers. Security sources in Lebanon say the target in Monday night’s air strike in Syria may have been weapons trucks destined for Hezbollah.

Meanwhile, the American magazine Time said a senior Israeli security official had confirmed that Israel had been behind the attack, which hit a convoy carrying surface-to-surface missiles to Lebanon.

IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz on Sunday accused Iran – Assad’s ally and Hezbollah’s patron – of moving weapons to the armed group.

“There is no theater in which Iran is not involved – giving out, if you like, torches to pyromaniacs – be it munitions or missiles or intervention in the fighting,” Gantz said. “We are tracking the processes of arms transfers in all of the operational theaters. This is something that is very grim and very sensitive. And from time to time, when the need arises, things can happen.”

Channel 10 television on Tuesday broadcast what it said were satellite images of the locations that were struck, which appeared to show missile silos being readied for weapons.

The Lebanese army reported that four Israeli planes had flown across northern Lebanon on Monday night toward the Bekaa Valley before heading southwest toward the Mediterranean Sea near the border with Israel. Israeli jets regularly fly through Lebanese airspace without permission.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu neither claimed responsibility nor denied that Israel had been involved, but said on Tuesday Israel would “do everything required to safeguard the security of Israeli citizens.”

Hezbollah called on Wednesday for the Palestinians to continue to resist Israel, warning that the Jewish state was planning to destroy the Aksa Mosque on the Temple Mount, Iran’s Press TV reported.

In a statement, the group praised Palestinians for resisting Israeli aggression and its goal of judaizing Jerusalem. This came after a debate on Israel’s sovereignty over the Temple Mount that was held on Tuesday in the Knesset.

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