IDF: Security fence with Lebanon was damaged in three locations

Event comes days after drone strike blamed on Israel targeted Hezbollah vehicle

IDF officers stand near Israel's newly built wall on the Lebanon border (photo credit: ANNA AHRONHEIM)
IDF officers stand near Israel's newly built wall on the Lebanon border
(photo credit: ANNA AHRONHEIM)
The IDF repaired two of three separate locations where damage was done to the border fence between Israel and Lebanon on Friday night.
A number of suspicious objects were found in the area of the third spot, leading the military to close the area.
According to a report from the Hezbollah-affiliated al-Manar, there were at least three plastic bags found in the third location and troops had fired 15 shots towards one bag that had been found next to the hole in the fence.
Video uploaded on pro-Hezbollah Twitter accounts showed several videos from the scene, including troops operating a drone and a bomb disposal robot carrying a blue plastic bag. A photo of Qassem Soleimani, Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis and Imad Mughniyeh with the word “Revenge” in Arabic and Persian was also found placed on the fence where the hole was cut.
Troops from The United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) were present at the scene.
On Friday, the military fired flares after receiving indications of a possible breach in the border fence between northern Israel from southern Lebanon.
Israel has complained to the United Nations Security Council about the damage to the barrier. The Foreign Ministry called it a “provocative attempt” by Hezbollah to “undermine Israeli sovereignty” along that border.
Israel’s Foreign Minister Israel Katz said on Saturday that, “Israel views very seriously any attempts to breach the border barrier. It expects the Lebanese government to exercise its responsibility and prevent these kind of threats to both Israeli and regional security.”
“Following earlier reports of fence indications along the Blue Line, IDF inspections revealed damage to the fence at three locations. Maintenance crews are currently repairing the damage,” the military said in a statement.
While the damage looked deliberate, the IDF said troops had carried out searches of the areas and confirmed that “no breach of Israeli territory occurred.”
Calling the damage to a security fence a “severe event,” the military said it “holds the Lebanese government responsible for actions emanating from its territory.”
The incident took place two days after an attack targeting a vehicle carrying Hezbollah fighters traveling from Syria to Lebanon that was blamed on Israel.
According to reports, the strike by an unmanned combat aircraft targeted a Jeep Cherokee traveling from Syria into Lebanon, despite the border between the two countries being closed both ways except for trade since mid-March due to the continuing spread of coronavirus.
The car, which was missing its license plate and had tinted windows, had been traveling in Jdaidat Yabous some 45 kilometers from the Syrian capital Damascus and a crossing point into Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley.
In a video uploaded to social media, the vehicle’s four occupants are seen leaving the car after a first strike struck the ground near the vehicle. Several moments pass and the occupants are seen running back to the Jeep and taking four large bags before it is destroyed by a second missile.
It’s unclear if the first missile simply missed its target or if this was deliberate, in order to warn the occupants and give them time to escape the vehicle before destroying it – a method known as “knocking on the roof” – in an operation targeting a specific piece of equipment rather than the passengers in the car.
The Al-Arabiya news site suggested that the strike had been targeting Mustafa Mughniyeh, the son of Imad Mughniyeh who was killed in an alleged joint Israeli-American operation. Mughniyeh, a senior Hezbollah operative, is active in the Lebanese terror group’s attempt to establish a military foothold on the Syrian Golan Heights and has smuggled weapons to the group.
Though Israel usually refrains from targeting terror operatives in an attempt to avoid retaliation, several drone strikes blamed on the Jewish state have killed Hezbollah operatives in southern Syria on the Golan Heights, where the group has been trying to establish a permanent military presence.
Last week the IDF accused the Syrian army of helping Hezbollah, publishing video footage from the border showing a senior Syrian Arab Army officer along with a number of other military officers and the head of Hezbollah’s southern command walking along the border.
“Even during the coronavirus period, the new commander of the Syrian army’s 1st Division, Lua’a Ali Ahmad Asa’ad, continues to help and allow the Hezbollah terror group to establish a front on the Golan Heights,” the IDF said in a statement. “In the clip, the new division commander is seen on a patrol of the front, including passing through areas known to be used by Hezbollah, with the head of Hezbollah’s southern command, Hajj Hashem.”
Israel’s military said the Syrian regime would be held responsible for all enemy activities emanating from its territory.
“Consider this a warning,” the IDF said.
Tovah Lazaroff contributed to this report.