IDF strikes Hezbollah targets following shots fired at IDF position

Netanyahu, Gantz warn Hezbollah to stop further attacks; No troops injured; Israeli military has been on high alert in the North since mid-July

Footage of the area from which the Hezbollah terrorist attack was carried out (Credit: IDF Spokesperson's Unit)
Israeli attack helicopters and fighter jets struck posts belonging to Hezbollah along the Lebanese border early Wednesday morning after IDF troops were fired upon near Kibbutz Menara in the Upper Galilee.
The strikes against Hezbollah targets came hours after the IDF said that a security incident was taking place near the kibbutz and ordered residents in the communities of Menara, Margaliot, Malkiya, Misgav Am and Yiftah to remain in their homes and lock their doors.
Roads in the areas of Malkiya, Ramot Naftali and Margaliot had also been blocked, and all outdoor activities were prohibited, including agricultural work.
“Regarding the security incident that took place last night at 10:40 p.m. in the area of [the Menara community], during operational activity, IDF troops were fired upon from Lebanese territory,” the army said in a statement.
According to a source who spoke to The Jerusalem Post, the troops were in the field when they heard gunfire directed toward them. The military then fired dozens of smoke shells and light flares in order to stop the gunfire and in an attempt to identify those who fired on the troops.
While the IDF was unable to spot any gunmen, “we know for sure that they fired upon the troops,” the source said.
“In response to the gunfire, IDF attack helicopters and aircraft struck terrorist targets belonging to the Hezbollah terrorist group,” the IDF said, adding that Hezbollah observation posts along the border were among the targets hit.

Lebanon’s MTV news agency quoted Lebanon’s Supreme Defence Council as denouncing what they called “an Israeli assault” and said a complaint would be filed to the United Nations. The Lebanese army said on its Twitter account that Israeli helicopters had fired missiles at centers belonging to Green Without Borders, an environmental NGO that Israel says belongs to Hezbollah.
The IDF later released a graphic showing where the attack took place, between two posts belonging to the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL).
According to the source, this was the second time since the Second Lebanon War in 2006 that the IDF has responded to an attack by Hezbollah with such intensity, referring to the deadly 2015 attack which killed two IDF troops – Maj. Yohai Klengel and St.-Sgt. Dor Nini – and wounded another seven soldiers. In retaliation, the IDF fired 50 shells into southern Lebanon and carried out airstrikes.
On Wednesday evening Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah, in a speech, said that the incident on the border between Lebanon and I Israel "was an important and sensitive matter to us. But I won't comment on it. I'll leave that for another time."
The source told the Post that “Hezbollah is now thinking of a new track after this attack because of how the IDF responded to an attack that had no casualties.
Though no troops were wounded, the Israeli military said that it views the incident as “very severe” and considers the government of Lebanon as “responsible for what is done in its territory.”
“The IDF will continue to maintain a high level of alertness and ensure the sovereignty of Israel and the security of residents as much as necessary,” the IDF said.

Following the incident, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that “Israel sees with great concern the shooting on Israeli forces by Hezbollah. We will not tolerate any aggression on our citizens and will retaliate with great force to any attack against us. Hezbollah’s aggression is a danger for the state of Lebanon.”
Defense Minister Benny Gantz warned Wednesday that the military would respond harshly to any incident on Israel’s borders.
“Tonight the security challenges continued, both in the North and in the South. We will continue to work to bring complete calm in the South of the country. In the North, we will not allow Nasrallah to harm our soldiers or our country. We will respond harshly to any incident that happens at the border,” said Gantz.
KAN NEWS reported that Netanyahu was in Safed on a family vacation at the time of the incident and was rushed to the IDF’s Northern Command Headquarters in the city, where he was updated on the situation and spoke to Gantz and IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Aviv Kochavi.

Kochavi on Wednesday visited the Northern Command along with the Head of the Northern Command Maj.-Gen. Amir Baram, the Commander of the Galilee Division Brig.-Gen. Shlomi Binder and other senior officers.
“During the visit, Kochavi received an operational review from the commanders and a situational assessment was conducted in which the latest developments and possible scenarios in the northern sector were discussed,” the military said in a statement. 

Israel has been bracing for a possible attack by the terrorist group after an alleged Israeli airstrike in Syria on July 20 killed one of its members.
Hezbollah said at the time that a response to the deadly strike was “inevitable,” leading Israel to deploy troop reinforcements along with advanced intelligence and precision fire systems to its northern borders and ban military vehicles from driving on roads adjacent to the borders.
A week later, a group of up to five armed Hezbollah terrorists attempted to infiltrate into Israel, crossing several meters into Israeli territory on Mount Dov, which led IDF troops to fire artillery shells toward the cell, forcing it back into Lebanon without it firing at IDF troops.

Nevertheless, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah said at the time that the July incident was not his group’s response, and a week after that IDF troops foiled an attempt to place explosive devices along the border fence, several dozens of kilometers away on the border with Syria. The four-member cell was killed by an IDF force on the ground and by aircraft.
But as tensions along Israel’s northern border with Lebanon subsided in mid-August, the IDF began to scale back troop reinforcements and other heightened security measures that had been put in place there.
According to the source, while Hezbollah is deterred from carrying out attacks that would cause casualties to IDF troops and is not responding to Israeli retaliation, the IDF is still bracing for an attack by the terrorist group.
“This is part of the chain of attacks by Hezbollah,” he said, adding that while so far none have caused any IDF fatalities, “it’s still unclear how it will end.”
While the IDF and defense officials determined that the Lebanese terrorist group would not carry out an attack following the devastating explosion in Beirut, the remaining troops in the area have nevertheless been ordered to remain in a heightened state of readiness.

Tzvi Joffre and Lahav Harkov contributed to this report.