Israel Slams 'Unprovoked Aggression' by Hezbollah

Hezbollah attack along Lebanon border a 'blatant breach of Israel's sovereignty', says IDF; UN urges 'restraint'.

Ari Soffer ,

IDF troops patrol northern border
IDF troops patrol northern border
Flash 90

The IDF has slammed today's attack on its soldiers along the border with Lebanon as "a blatant breach of Israel's sovereignty," as the UN called for "maximum restraint" following the bombing.

Two soldiers were wounded earlier Tuesday in a bomb blast inside Israeli territory along the country's northern border with Lebanon. Security sources said one of the soldiers was lightly wounded, while the second was in a slightly worse condition.

Shortly afterwards, a second bomb was detonated nearby, but caused no casualties.

Lebanese Shia terrorist group Hezbollah claimed responsibility for the attack just a few hours later.

Following the first blast, Israeli troops opened fire across the ceasefire line, army spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Peter Lerner said.  

"IDF responded to IED (improvised explosive device) attack with artillery at two Hezbollah positions in southern Lebanon," he wrote on Twitter.

Denouncing the blasts as "unprovoked aggression," Lerner put the blame on both Hezbollah and the Lebanese government.

"The Lebanese government and Hezbollah are directly responsible for this blatant breach of Israel's sovereignty," he said.

The clash is the second in a matter of days, after the IDF identified an attempt to infiltrate the border on Sunday. Israeli soldiers opened fire at the infiltrators, wounding one Lebanese soldier. It is not yet clear whether the soldier was involved in the infiltration attempt or merely caught in the crossfire, but it would not be the first time a Lebanese soldier mounted an unprovoked attack against Israeli forces along the border.

Meanwhile, the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), which monitors the border between Lebanon and Israel, urged both sides to use "maximum restraint" for fear of a flare-up.

"UNIFIL contacted both parties urging maximum restraint and asking them to cooperate... in order to reduce tension and prevent escalation," it said in a statement.

"Such actions are in contravention of our objectives and efforts to... establish a stable and secure environment in southern Lebanon."   

Speaking at the start of a cabinet meeting later in the day, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu commended IDF soldiers for their bravery and sent his "best wishes for a quick and complete recovery to our wounded."

"We have proved that we responded forcefully to every attempt to harm us, be it in the north, south or any other sector," he added.

Har Dov - known in Arabic as the Shabaa Farms - is a mountainous, narrow sliver of land rich in water resources measuring 25 square kilometres (10 square miles). It has was captured by Israel during the 1967 Six Day War in response to Syrian efforts to invade and destroy the Jewish state.

Since Israeli troops withdrew from south Lebanon in 2000, Hezbollah has taken up the "cause" of the Shabaa farms as a pretext to continue waging war against the Jewish state.

But the Iranian proxy group, which is sworn to Israel's destruction, has recently had its attention and resources diverted to Syria, where it is helping to prop up the regime of Bashar al-Assad against an array of Sunni rebel forces. Just recently fighting between Hezbollah and Al Qaeda's Nusra Front left eight Hezbollah terrorists dead.

It has however sporadically targeted Israeli forces along the border in similar attacks in the past few years, including one just over a year ago which wounded four soldiers.

Tuesday's incident was the first time Hezbollah has carried out an attack against Israeli forces in the area since a March blast that caused no casualties.

Hezbollah claimed responsibility for that attack a month later, with its chief Hassan Nasrallah saying it was "part of the reply" to Israeli air strikes against the group's positions in Lebanon.