The IDF is preparing for an attack on the Israel-Lebanon border in the coming days.
By Lauren Marcus, World Israel News
The IDF is readying for an “imminent” Hezbollah attack on the Israel-Lebanon border, likely to occur in the coming days, according to a report by Israel Hayom on Sunday.
The motive behind the expected attack is retaliation for an airstrike at Damascus Airport in Syria last Monday, attributed to the IDF, which killed a Hezbollah terrorist.
Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah has stated publicly that he will avenge all Hezbollah casualties, even if they are injured or killed outside of Lebanon’s borders.
In September 2019 and January 2015, Hezbollah responded to Israeli strikes in Syria that killed Hezbollah terrorists by firing anti-tank missiles at IDF vehicles on Israel’s northern border. The 2015 incident killed two IDF soldiers. No one was hurt in the September 2019 attack.
Both times, Israel chose not to return fire, effectively ending the escalations. It’s likely that the IDF is preparing for a similar scenario in the coming days.
Troops near the Lebanese border have been reduced, roads have been closed to civilian traffic, and the Northern Command was reinforced with an additional infantry battalion from the Golani Brigade, reported Israel Hayom.
On Saturday, Lebanese media reported that Israel sent a message to Hezbollah via the United Nations, saying the killing of the Hezbollah terrorist was unintentional, in an effort to reduce tensions.
However, the message reportedly added that any retaliation by Hezbollah would be met by a harsh response from Israel.
But the possibility of conflict comes at a difficult time for Hezbollah. Lebanon is in the midst of an unprecedented economic crisis and social unrest, with a nearly 50 percent unemployment rate and the nation’s currency losing 85 percent of its value in the last six months.
According to Israel Hayom, Iranian funding to Hezbollah has shrunk dramatically, by at least several hundred million dollars annually, due to sanctions placed on Iran.
Because Hezbollah partners with the Lebanese government, many Lebanese consider Hezbollah partially responsible for the crisis. A new war with Israel started by Hezbollah during the current financial and employment crisis could wreak havoc on Lebanon and would likely be opposed by Lebanese citizens.
The IDF anticipates that Hezbollah will attack in a retaliatory show of force, but does not actually want to escalate the situation into a full-blown conflict.
However, if a Hezbollah attack wounds or kills Israeli civilians or soldiers, the IDF will be forced to respond in kind.
The Defense Ministry said in a statement on Saturday night that Defense Minister Benny Gantz has “instructed the IDF to be on high alert in the northern region.”
“The IDF and the entire defense establishment will act decisively against any threat to Israeli citizens. Lebanon and Syria will bear direct responsibility for any action taken from their territory,” the statement continued.
The “red alert” on the northern border is expected to continue for the coming days. Last September, Hezbollah responded to the alleged Israeli killing of a terrorist after seven days.
With the Islamic holiday of Eid al-Adha beginning this Thursday, it’s thought that Hezbollah may respond earlier than last time.