ANALYSIS: What was behind Hezbollah's new attack on the IDF?

On Tuesday evening, Israel again came close to war with Hezbollah in Lebanon after terrorists fired on IDF soldiers.

Yochanan Visser ,

Israel-Lebanon border
Israel-Lebanon border
Hadas Parush/Flash90

On Tuesday evening, Israel again came close to war with Hezbollah in Lebanon after terrorists from the Iranian-founded and backed Shia organization shot at soldiers of the Israeli army (IDF) near Kibbutz Manara in the most northern part of the Galilee.

Initially, the IDF thought it was a new attempted infiltration and for that reason, flares were fired continuously at first to illuminate the area around Manara.

A short time later, while being in Rosh Pina less than thirty kilometers from Manara, I observed that heavy explosions had started. The blasts lasted for nearly an hour and resembled artillery shelling.

Israelis living in the area around Manara were ordered to enter their bomb shelters right at the beginning of the incident and stayed there a part of the night.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, meanwhile, who was on a short vacation with his family in the northern Israeli city of Safed was transferred to the IDF command center in the city where he met with Aviv Kochavi, the IDF Chief of Staff and also discussed the situation with Benny Gantz, Israel’s Defense Minister and Alternate PM.

Both Gantz and Netanyahu later released statements putting Hezbollah on guard.

“Israel views with utmost gravity the shooting at our forces by Hezbollah. We will not tolerate any aggression against our citizens and we will respond forcefully to any attack against us. I suggest that Hezbollah not try the crushing force of Israel. Hezbollah is once again endangering Lebanon with its aggression," the statement read.

Gantz used his Twitter account to warn Hezbollah.

“We will not allow Nasrallah to hurt either our soldiers or our country. We will react severely to any incident on the border,’’ the Israeli DM wrote after explaining the incident and writing that the Israeli military had used combat helicopters and warplanes to attack Hezbollah.

It was the first time the Israeli Air Force (IAF) attacked Hezbollah targets in Lebanon since the 2006 Second Lebanon War which started with the abduction of the dead bodies of IDF soldiers Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev who were killed by a Cornet missile launched by Hezbollah .

Tensions in the border area between Lebanon and Israel have been raging for weeks after Hezbollah member Ali Kamel Mohsen Jawad was killed in an IAF bombing near Damascus on July 20.

Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah had previously threatened to avenge the death of every member of the organization in Israeli military actions and kept his word.

On July 27, a Hezbollah cell of four or five terrorists attempted to infiltrate Israel near Har Dov in the northeastern border area with Israel. The group of terrorists was discovered in time, however, and shot at by the IDF, after which the men fled back to Lebanon without any injuries.

It was later revealed that the IDF's Northern Command had been ordered not to shoot the terrorists themselves in order to prevent war.

At the same time, Hezbollah announced that the infiltration would be followed by new actions against Israel to avenge Jawad's death.

"The Zionists just have to wait for their crimes to be punished," Hezbollah leader Nasrallah said after the failed infiltration.

Nasrallah was now a lot less vicious in his comments on the new action against the IDF, saying it was "an important and sensitive measure."

“What happened yesterday in south Lebanon is an important and sensitive measure for us, but I will not comment on it. I will instead leave it until a later point in time,” the Hezbollah leader said during a speech to the people of Lebanon on the Al-Manar television station.

It could be that the Hezbollah leader was so cautious because he couldn’t elaborate on the real reason for the attack.

What the media completely missed was an event that reportedly took place on Monday in Syria's Dara'a province south of Kuneitra on the Golan Heights.

Local Syrian media reported that an Israeli missile hit a base in western Dara'a shared by the Syrian army, Hezbollah and the Quds Force of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.

The missile hit the base but there were no further reports about deaths or injuries.

The new Hezbollah action against Israel came exactly a day after this incident, so it could be that it was a retaliation for the attack on the base in Dara'a and if Nasrallah had addressed this in his speech he would have admitted that Hezbollah is still in southwest Syria.

Israel has now filed an official complaint to the United Nations Security Council about Hezbollah's growing aggression.

Gilad Erdan, Israel's new UN ambassador called upon the Security Council to take immediate action against Lebanon and heavily criticized the UNIFIL peacekeeping force in Lebanon.

Erdan filed his complaint together with an aerial photo showing that Tuesday’s incident took place in an area between two UNIFIL camps. The UN peacekeeping force, however, again failed to intervene despite its mandate to guarantee that there would be no Hezbollah presence in the border area with Israel.

The United States is now in talks with the French government about expanding UNIFIL's mandate. The peace force should have more resources to access places it has not been able to inspect until now. However, it is highly doubtful whether an extension of UNIFIL's mandate will affect Hezbollah's presence in the border area with Israel.

UNIFIL was expected to ensure the implementation of UN Resolution 1701 of August 2006 but has not done that so far. That resolution ended the Second Lebanon War and banned the presence of any forces other than the Lebanese Army and UNIFIL in the area south of the Litani River. The resolution also demanded “full respect for the Blue Line” the internationally recognized border between Israel and Lebanon which Hezbollah doesn’t recognize.