Hezbollah sets off large border bomb targeting IDF heavy vehicles
By YAAKOV LAPPIN /Jersusamem Post/01/04/2016
Hezbollah set off a large bomb on the Israel – Lebanon border, on the western section of Mount Dov on Monday, targeting two armored military vehicles that were clearing a road in the area.
The IDF has responded with cross-border artillery fire at targets into 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. At this stage, there are 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. The army is unaware of any cross-border infiltrations at this stage. 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. Hezbollah claimed responsibility for the attack on the IDF vehicles, according to Lebanese Al-Mayadeen television.”A cell of the martyr Samir Kuntar detonated the large explosive in Sheba farms area in occupied Lebanon during an IDF patrol causing the destruction of a Hummer and injuring all its passengers,” Hezbollah said. Lebanese media reported that that the explosive was meant to harm a senior Mossad official.
Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon held a security assessment meeting on Monday night at IDF Headquarters in Tel Aviv. Ya’alon met with Eisenkot, Military Intelligence chief Maj.-Gen. Herzl Levi, the head of the IDF Operations Branch Maj.-Gen. Nitzan Alon, and other senior officers. No statement was released at the end of the meeting. Lebanese media earlier reported that Israeli shells were fired at the Sheba Farms region near the intersection of the Syrian, Israeli, and Lebanese frontiers.
The news reports north of the border are consistent with eyewitness accounts of Israelis on the Golan Heights who told The Jerusalem Post’s Hebrew-language sister publication Ma’ariv that they heard the roar of artillery fire over the weekend. According to Lebanese news outlets, the IDF fired 20 shells toward the vicinity of Sheba Farms, which is also known as Mount Dov. An Israeli military official told Ma’ariv on Sunday that the purpose of the artillery fire was to deter Hezbollah from planting explosives along the border in an effort to avenge the death of Samir Kuntar, the commander who was killed in an airstrike in Damascus. Israel is believed to be behind the killing, though Jerusalem did not confirm this.
“I cleared up this issue with the army after I received numerous complaints from residents,” a security guard in one of the Israeli towns along the border said. “A senior officer in the IDF Northern Command told me that there is a real concern that Hezbollah will plant a bomb along the border under the cover of fog, so whenever we spot suspicious activity we fire an artillery shell in that direction for the sake of deterrence.”Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah, speaking a week after the assassination of Kuntar, praised the terrorist who killed four Israelis in an attack in Nahariya in 1979, saying he was an icon for the school of resistance.
“The Israelis are hiding like rats along the border,” he said. They are worried and they should be worried along the border and inside Israel. Their threats will not benefit them. “The retaliation to Samir’s assassination will inevitably come,” Nasrallah said, adding that Hezbollah would not tolerate the “blood of our jihadist fighters and brothers to be shed anywhere in this world.”Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday sent an apparent message to Nasrallah in response, warning, “Our enemies should know that we will aggressively retaliate to any attack against us.”
Netanyahu made the comments at an awards ceremony for outstanding Mossad employees just two days after Nasrallah vowed retaliation. 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. “Beyond our borders too, facing the threats we hear to the North, we stand ready for any challenge, and as we have proven in the past, we know how to find and hit all who seek our harm,” Eisenkot said. The chief of staff warned that “our enemies know that if they try to undermine the security of Israel, they will face severe consequences.”
**Maariv Online and Yasser Okbi contributed to this report.
IDF fires artillery after bomb explodes on Lebanese border
Ynet Reporters/Published: 01.04.16/ Israel News
Hezbollah claims responsibility for explosive device near Chebaa Farms area in revenge for death of Samir Kuntar; Lebanese security forces report at least 50 shells hitting villages in the area.
A large roadside bomb exploded near an IDF force at the Lebanese border near the Shebaa Farms area on Monday afternoon, leading the IDF to fire artillery shells at Hezbollah targets in the area for about an hour. The explosion targeted two of the IDF’s Caterpillar D9 armored bulldozers. No soldiers have been hurt in the incident. IDF Engineering forces cordoned off the area and were searching for any additional explosives. Lebanese media reported considerable Israel Air Force presence in the area. Al Mayadeen quoted a Lebanese security source saying the IDF had fired artillery at a Lebanese military post in the Bastra Farm area on the outskirts of Kfarchouba. The TV station also reported casualties on the Lebanese side.
Lebanese security officials said more than 50 Israeli shells hit several villages in the area where the Hezbollah operation was carried out. Residents along the border said shelling from Israeli tanks and artillery landed in agricultural areas inside Lebanon, but did not report casualties. “We fired artillery at Hezbollah targets near the border,” an IDF spokesperson said. “It happened near Nahal Sion.” The spokesperson denied there was an attempt at kidnapping soldiers, anti-tank fire, or infiltration of terrorists into Israel. The Lebanese terror organization Hezbollah claimed responsibility for the attack, which they say was committed by the “Samir Kuntar Brigades.”Samir Kuntar was a notorious Hezbollah terrorist who spent almost three decades in Israeli prison for the murder of the Haran family and an Israeli police officer. After his release in a prisoners exchange deal in 2008, Kuntar returned to terror, planning attacks against Israel in the Golan Heights. He was killed in an airstrike in Syria, which Hezbollah attributed to Israel and for which it vowed revenge. The IDF has been conducting controlled explosions and firing artillery into unpopulated, empty areas in order to prevent Hezbollah from exploiting stormy weather to commit a terror attack in the border area.
**Yoav Zitun, Roi Kais, Ahiya Raved and the Associated Press contributed to this report.