Two Israeli soldiers are killed in a cross-border attack on an Israeli patrol road with anti-tank missiles. A Spanish soldier serving with UNIFIL is reportedly killed by Israeli retaliatory shelling. Israeli politicians call for harsh response. Israel killed a Hezbollah commander a week earlier.
Two Israeli soldiers were killed in a cross-border attack on the Lebanese border Wednesday morning, for Hezbollah quickly took responsibility. A Spanish soldier serving with UNIFIL, the UN peacekeeping force in Lebanon, was killed in Israeli retaliatory shelling.
The border attack comes a week after Israel assassinated a Hezbollah commander and an Iranian general in the Quneitra area of the Golan Heights in Syria. In the past 24 hours, two rockets hit the Israeli-occupied side of the Golan Heights and the IDF responded by striking Syrian military positions.
Late Wednesday Wednesday Israeli army vehicles traveling on a patrol road along the Lebanese border fence near Shebaa Farms and the village of Ghajar, which is half in Israel and half in Lebanon, were hit by Kornet anti-tank missiles.
Photos and video obtained by Israeli media showed two vehicles along the border fence completely engulfed in flames.
Israel’s Ch 10 photos of attack on Lebanon-Israel border this morning pic.twitter.com/aIGPlJCY27
— Mike S. Omer-Man (@MikeOmerMan) January 28, 2015
A statement by Hezbollah taking credit for the attack said it had been perpetrated by its “Quneitra Martyrs unit,” a reference to last week’s Israeli attack in Syria.
In response to the attack, the Israeli military attacked southern Lebanon with artillery and air strikes, killing a Spanish UNIFIL soldier. An IDF Spokesperson said that the army’s response was not over.
A senior IDF source told Ynet that the Spanish UNIFIL soldier was hit “by one of the mortars we fired. We were immediately in contact with the UN, we regret the incident and will examine it. We will draw conclusions, we have no intention of harming UN forces.”
Israel and Hezbollah fought a month-long war in 2006 following a similar cross-border attack against a patrol jeep in which two soldiers’ bodies were captured by the Lebanese militant group.
Hezbollah has been active in the Syrian civil war and many analysts have indicated that the group is hesitant to enter into a new war with Israel due to being overstretched in Syria.
Israel is less than two months away from general elections. Incumbent Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned Hezbollah not to test Israel following the attack. Netanyahu pointed to the recent war in Gaza as warning of what could come.
Netanyahu’s main challenger in the elections, Labor’s Isaac Herzog responded to the attack supporting a harsh response, saying: “If somebody in Hezbollah thinks that they can threaten and divide us during elections is badly mistaken — in the fight against terror there is no coalition and no opposition.”
Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman called for a “harsh and disproportionate” response to the attack.