Israel-Lebanon: Hezbollah members ‘wounded’ in explosion at border

MEE Staff

Middle East Eye  /  July 12, 2023

Israeli media claims three members of Hezbollah had set a fire at the border, setting off landmines.

Members of Lebanon’s Hezbollah movement were wounded on Wednesday in an explosion on the southern border with Israel, according to media reports. 

Sources told Reuters the men were wounded in an “attack” and a security source told AFP the injuries were from “Israeli fire”. 

Initial reports from local media state that three members of Hezbollah were wounded in the incident. 

The Israeli army said it foiled an attempt by Lebanese men to damage the border fence. 

However, the Israeli news site Ynet said that Israeli troops had used “non-lethal” means to drive the men away.

There was no immediate comment from Hezbollah. 

According to Al-Jazeera, the group is now conducting an investigation with the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) to determine the source of the blast.  

Israel’s public broadcaster Kan said earlier that a group of Hezbollah men had set a fire at the border, setting off landmines, and that Israeli troops had fired warning shots during the incident. 

An Israeli army spokesperson said in a statement that several individuals holding Hezbollah flags were seen firing flares towards Israel, and that the army pushed them back.

The Hezbollah members at the border are believed to have been marking the 17th anniversary of the Second Lebanon War. The month-long war between Hezbollah and Israel killed 1,200 people in Lebanon, mostly civilians, and around 160 Israelis, most of them troops fighting Hezbollah in Lebanon. 

Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah is due to give a speech later tonight to commemorate the 2006 war. 

Israeli Defence Minister Yoav Gallant confirmed targeting  “Hezbollah operatives” in a brief statement. 

“We deterred Hezbollah operatives with non-lethal means. Anyone who tries us will receive an answer, we will know how to do what is necessary at the right time,” Gallant said. 

Renewed tensions

The Lebanese southern border has experienced a rise in tensions in recent weeks, which peaked on 6 July when there was a cross-border exchange of fire. 

The Israeli army shelled southern Lebanon after two rockets were launched from the area and exploded near the border fence with Israel.

Initially, the Israeli army denied reports that a mortar was launched from southern Lebanon but then said that a rocket landed close to its border territory.

Hezbollah did not comment on the reports of the rocket fire.

However, the armed group condemned what it called “dangerous measures” taken by Israeli forces in the northern part of Ghajar, which Lebanon deems as part of its territory. 

Lebanese media reported Israel had fired “more than 15 artillery shells”, which hit the communities of Kfar Chouba and Halta on Thursday morning.

Israel and Lebanon remain foes, and the UNIFIL in Lebanon patrols the fence border between them to keep peace in the region.


Israeli fire said to wound Hezbollah members on Lebanon border

Al-Jazeera  /  July 12, 2023

Lebanese sources say three Hezbollah members injured; Israeli military says group approached border fence and was repelled.

Several members of Lebanon’s Hezbollah group have been wounded in a flare-up on the southern border with Israel, a Lebanese security source and a source briefed on the developments say.

“Three Hezbollah members were wounded by Israeli fire near the border,” the security source told the Agence France-Presse news agency on the condition of anonymity because the official was not authorized to speak to the media.

The wounded were taken to a hospital near the scene of Wednesday’s incident in the village of Bustan in southern Lebanon, the source added.

The incident took place on the 17th anniversary of the start of a month-long war between Hezbollah and Israel in 2006 that killed 1,200 people in Lebanon, mostly civilians, and about 160 Israelis, most of them soldiers fighting Hezbollah inside Lebanon.

There was no immediate comment from Hezbollah’s media office on Wednesday.

The Israeli military said in a statement: “A number of suspects approached the northern security fence with Lebanon and attempted to sabotage the security fence in the area.”

“Soldiers immediately spotted the suspects and used means to distance them,” the army said, adding that “the identity of the suspects is unknown.”

Al Jazeera’s Imran Khan said the fact that the statement from Israel’s army did not say it was Hezbollah members who were wounded was intentional.

“The reason for that is that things are incredibly tense on that border with northern Israel and southern Lebanon in the last six months,” Khan said from occupied East Jerusalem.

“Israel doesn’t want escalation right now because Hamas, Hezbollah and the Syrian armed groups fighting near the Golan Heights are all unified,” he added. “They’ve all said that if there’s an attack on one, it’s an attack on them all.”

Israeli Defence Minister Yoav Gallant said the army “deterred activists with nonlethal means”.

“Anyone who tries us will get an answer,” Gallant said. “We have a lot to do, and we will know how to do what is needed at the right time.”

The Lebanese source briefed on developments described the incident as an attack and said several Hezbollah members had been wounded but could not immediately provide more details.

One Lebanese security source said a grenade fired by Israeli forces had wounded three people believed to be members of Hezbollah. Another said a group of Hezbollah members on the border was the target and three were wounded.

Israel’s public broadcaster Kan said a group of Hezbollah members had set a fire at the border, setting off landmines and Israeli troops had fired warning shots.

The United Nations peacekeeping force along the southern Lebanese border said it was investigating the situation. “In the meantime, the situation is extremely severe,” it said. “We urge everyone to cease any action that may lead to escalation of any kind.”

The incident comes less than a week after the Israeli army struck southern Lebanon after an anti-tank missile launched from its northern neighbour exploded in the border area.

Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah was due to make a televised address to commemorate the 2006 war.

Lebanese officials said Israel in recent weeks has built a wall around the Lebanese part of Ghajar, a town that straddles the border between Lebanon and the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights in Syria. Lebanon’s foreign minister asked the country’s permanent mission to the UN to file a complaint on the matter.

Israel filed a complaint with the UN in June saying Hezbollah had set up tents several dozen metres within Israeli territory. The tents were erected in Chebaa Farms and the Kfar Chouba hills, which Israeli captured from Syria during the 1967 June War and annexed in 1981 although Lebanon claims the area belongs to it.