Hizbullah Blast Lightly Wounds Israeli Soldiers

YERUSHALAYIM -
An Israeli soldier is evacuated to Rambam Medical Center in Haifa on Tuesday after being wounded by explosives detonated by Hizbullah near the border. (REUTERS/Baz Ratner)
An Israeli soldier is evacuated to Rambam Medical Center in Haifa on Tuesday after being wounded by explosives detonated by Hizbullah near the border. (REUTERS/Baz Ratner)

Less than 48 hours after an incident on the Lebanese border, the Hizbullah terrorist organization in Lebanon claimed responsibility for an explosion that lightly wounded two IDF soldiers in the Har Dov area near the border on Tuesday.

The IDF responded by firing some 40 artillery shells across the border, where it said two Hizbullah targets in southern Lebanon were hit.

Lebanese news agency  al-Manar reported heavy Israeli artillery fire near Kfar Shuba and the Sheba Farms in Lebanon, and that Israeli drones were sighted over the site of the explosion.

A second blast tore through the Har Dov region on Tuesday afternoon about a half hour after the previous one. B’chasdei Hashem, there were no injuries or damages in the second blast.

The wounded soldiers, bomb-disposal experts from the Engineering Corps, were evacuated while under fire by helicopter to the Rambam Medical Center in Haifa for treatment of shrapnel wounds to their limbs. One of them was expected to undergo surgery to remove the shrapnel.

The soldiers were wounded during ground operations to locate and neutralize explosive devices in the area, following an exchange of fire in the area on Sunday. Hizbullah takes advantage of the rough terrain and the lack of a border fence to set the explosives and detonate them remotely.

“Hizbullah is responsible for the planting of these explosive devices and setting them off today, which is why it was attacked back,” Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon said.

“There’s a phenomenon here of a state within a state, and we also consider the Lebanese government responsible for this incident,” he added.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu expressed his gratitude to the soldiers “who thwarted a terrorist attack in the north” and sent his wishes for a speedy recovery to the wounded.

“We’re witnessing the threats accumulating around us, these threats the whole world already knows about and is already dealing with some of them,” Netanyahu went on to say, adding that these threats obligated Israel “to invest considerable amounts in security, and invest in communities near the border alongside that.”

An initial army investigation into the incident found that the explosives were planted in advance, ready to be detonated when Israeli soldiers moved into the area. It was as yet unclear how many explosions occurred on Tuesday. The IDF searched the area for additional explosives.

According to a Hizbullah statement, the attack was in retaliation for the death of a Hizbullah operative as he attempted to infiltrate into Israel last month.

Situation assessments held in the Northern Command in recent weeks led to the decision to increase army presence in the area because of the Yamim Tovim and instability on the Syrian border.