One week after the killing of Ali Kamel Mohsen by Israeli airstrikes in Syria, a Hezbollah squad reportedly infiltrated Israel’s northern border near Shebaa Farms but were thwarted by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) before they could carry out an attack.
According to the IDF, the Hezbollah cell successfully infiltrated into Israel before being targeted by Israeli soldiers.
“Preliminary specifications of the incident indicate that a terrorist cell penetrated a few meters beyond the Blue Line into the sovereign territory of the State of Israel. The observers identified the squad, and the terrorists were under observation and fire throughout the incident,” said IDF spokesman Brigadier General Hedi Zilberman.
Zilberman elaborated further saying, “IDF forces opened fire on the terrorists, including firing machine guns, tank fire, and masking the area with artillery smoke. The squad fled to Lebanese territory.”
A short time after the incident occurred, Hezbollah published a statement via its outlet Central Military Media denying its fighters were involved in a clash with the IDF.
“The Islamic Resistance affirms that there has been no clash or shooting on its part in the events of the day until now. Rather, it was only one party, which was the fearful, anxious and tense enemy,” the statement said.
Furthermore, Hezbollah explicitly warned their retaliation for the death of Mohsen was imminent.
“Our response to the martyrdom of the Mujahid brother Ali Kamel Mohsen who was martyred in the Zionist aggression on the outskirts of Damascus International Airport is definitely coming and the Zionists only have to wait for the punishment for their crimes,” the statement said.
Later that day, Prime Minister Netanyahu and Defense Minister Gantz called a press conference to convey a message to Hezbollah’s Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah.
“Israel will continue to take action against Iran’s efforts to entrench itself militarily in our region. Nasrallah is embroiling Lebanon – because of Iran. Hezbollah and Lebanon bear full responsibility for this incident and for any attack against the State of Israel emanating from Lebanese territory. Hezbollah needs to understand that it is playing with fire. Any attack against us will be met with great force,” Netanyahu stated.
Conflicting statements from both Israel and Hezbollah make it difficult to determine exactly what happened at the border. Reports of gunfire, and an Israeli artillery shell striking a Lebanese home north of where the infiltration took place strongly suggests the IDF was engaged in a military operation against Hezbollah fighters.
Adding to the likelihood Hezbollah attempted to carry out an attack, the mother of Mohsen was recorded praising the Islamic Resistance for its retaliation against Israel after news of the border incident became public.
Although Hezbollah stated they did not clash with IDF soldiers, it doesn’t mean they weren’t involved in an operation. Considering available evidence and statements, it is reasonable to believe they were in the midst of carrying out an assault but were discovered and fled back to Lebanon to avoid casualties.
By stating “retaliation is coming,” Hezbollah has limited its options. It could have accepted the operation as a failure and moved on without risking further conflict with Israel during a period when Lebanon is suffering greatly due to a severe economic crisis.
The coming days will allow a better outlook on what may transpire along the Lebanon-Israel border. Either Hezbollah will consider the matter of Mohsen’s death closed or it will stick to its motto of “balance of deterrence” and attempt a second retaliation.
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