‘Mishap’: IDF took hours to discover Hezbollah theft of surveillance camera

Army admits its oversight, which comes amid several provocative acts on the border by the Lebanese terror organization. Metullah Council head warns Israel’s deterrence is fading, northern residents neglected.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

Hezbollah terrorists stole a surveillance camera on the northern border last week and it took the IDF several hours to discover the theft in what it admitted was a mishap that should not have occurred, Ynet reported Monday.

The report said that although the wall has with sensors, the thieves had over five hours to disappear before the army began investigating the Wednesday incident. This included a search over a large area near the wall, located close to the Fatma gate outside Metulla, which the army closed off in order to ascertain if any terrorists had remained on the Israeli side of the border.

Hezbollah posted a clip to its Telegram channel of several men on top of the IDF’s new and very high border wall, climbing onto the metal construction that holds several surveillance cameras. One man can be seen hitting a camera with what looks like a large rock, and then lowering either that one or a different one on a rope to the ground while another accomplice slides down a parallel rope.

Damage was caused to several cameras, the report said.

A reporter for TV station Al-Manar, a Hezbollah mouthpiece, showed off the camera in a report two days later to mock the IDF.

An IDF spokesperson called the theft “a breakdown that is currently under in-depth investigation. When the investigation is over, lessons will be learned in full from the incident.”

The army also claimed that only two hours had passed before the theft was discovered, which in fact was not the most serious incident on the border Wednesday. That same day, the IDF foiled an attempt by several Hezbollah terrorists to damage the fence, using riot dispersal methods and reportedly wounding three members of the Iranian proxy group.

Wednesday was the anniversary of the breakout of the 2006 Second Lebanon War, which Hezbollah claims as a victory against Israel.

On Saturday, a group of 18 Lebanese, including an MP, illegally crossed the internationally recognized border near Mount Dov. IDF troops fired warning shots in the air and smoke grenades after the group had walked some 80 meters into Israeli territory, and it took several minutes before they turned back.

Other recent provocations by Hezbollah include shooting fireworks at Metullah homes from Lebanon and even infiltrating into Israel to set up two tents in April, again near Mount Dov, threatening retaliation if the IDF removes them. Israel does not want to exacerbate the situation and has complained to the UN about the incursion into its sovereign territory. The UN’s peacekeeping force in the area, UNIFIL, has yet to get Hezbollah to clear the site.

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Metullah Council head David Azoulai told Ynet Thursday that Israel’s deterrence is fading and “it is irresponsible to neglect the residents of the north.”

“Every time there is restraint and more restraint. We must respond. The fault line was the event of Megiddo, when Nasrallah realized that he could stick a finger in our eye and do whatever he wanted, and that the State of Israel would not respond. Look at the joke with the Hezbollah tents. We are begging the French, the Americans and the UN to take care of this for us.”

Ynet’s report said that the army is divided over how seriously the IDF should respond to these provocations, with some recommending that a strong response would ensure that another, more severe incident would not occur that could then drag Israel into an armed conflict in the north.