Recent clashes with terrorist group Hezbollah along the Lebanese border have spiraled out of control, security sources told Israel Radio Wednesday, warning they could potentially lead to another conflict in the north in the near future.
Two charges detonated inside Israeli territory along the Lebanese border at Har Dov left two soldiers wounded on Tuesday.
Hezbollah claimed responsibility for the attack just a few hours later - a move officials say is uncharacteristic of the group, in that it sends a "clear message to Israel," and could indicate a change in policy.
Over the past several years, they stressed, Hezbollah has taken great lengths to remain quiet over their role in border skirmishes and has rarely openly taken responsibility for attacks on the IDF and Israelis.
But hours after the attack, deputy Hezbollah leader Naim Qassem declared that the bomb was a deliberate response to Israel's "violations."
“We wanted to tell Israelis that we are ready and that there is no way they can assault us while we stand by and watch,” said Qassem, according to the Lebanese TheDaily Star.
Qassem added that Hezbollah terrorists were capable of infiltrating Israel to plant the bombs despite heavy surveillance.
The officials noted that the group's newfound defiance could preclude another conflict, and added that it possibly indicates the IDF may be "losing control" along the border.
Border control: slipping away?
Israeli-Lebanese border tensions have been building for months.
According to Hezbollah's leaders, bombing was "retaliation" for a September 5 incident in which a Hezbollah terrorist was killed after the IDF detonated a listening device on the terror group's telecommunications hotline.
Tuesday's bomb incident 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 a Lebanese Army soldier who apparently joined the gun battle.
The clashes have surfaced after a score of rockets were fired on Israeli civilians in the Galilee over the past three months during - and after - Operation Protective Edge against Hamas in Gaza.
Soon after the conflict ended, several senior IDF officers raised concern about possible terror tunnels Hezbollah may be digging along the Lebanon border. The IDF has refused to acknowledge those concerns publicly, instead launching a private investigation into the issue.
Alarm has also been raised after the IDF and Defense Ministry cut guard duty near northern border communities - just one year after a similar move along the Gaza Belt saw an escalation in terror and, eventually, war.
Northern residents have responded to the apparent apathy to the situation by arming themselves, and gun ownership along the Lebanese and Syrian border communities has risen as high as 60% in recent weeks.