By Naomi Friedman, Staff Writer
Wednesday, Jan. 28, marks the first fatal attack on the northern border of Israel since June 2014 when a teenage boy was killed on the Golan Heights, across from Syria, in a missile strike.
Two Israeli soldiers were killed and seven wounded by the Shiite Islamic movement, Hezbollah, near the Lebanese border, north of Israel. This sudden attack, claimed by Israel’s principle adversary, was a retaliation to recent alleged Israeli air strikes near Quneitra, Syria. The alleged Israeli bombing killed one Iranian general and six Hezbollah fighters. It is the loss of the general, Hezbollah says, which made them react harder against Israel. Israel has neither denied nor taken responsibility for these events.
This harsh response by the Iranian-allied group, Hezbollah, made Israel reinforce troops on the northern border. Prime Minister Netanyahu warns of possible retaliations on the scale of the summer war against Hamas on the Gaza Strip, according to a Wall Street Journal (WSJ) article.
“I suggest those trying to challenge us in the North look at Gaza,” said Netanyahu in a Jerusalem Post (JP) article about the Lebanon attacks. “Hamas suffered the most serious blow since it was founded…and the Israel Defense Forces is prepared to act on every front.”
“In all of these events, our mission is to defend the State of Israel and its citizens,” said Netanyahu to the JP. “Thus we have acted and thus we will continue to act.”
With the pressure of the elections scheduled on March 17, many right-wing rivals of Netanyahu have challenged him on his security record. “The approach Israel has taken until now must be changed and respond very harshly and disproportionally to rocket fire on our sovereign territory,” said Avidgor Liberman, a hardline Israeli foreign minister who is running against Netanyahu in a rival right-wing party, according to the WSJ.
The WSJ published that the United States blamed Hezbollah for continuing “to incite violence and instability inside Lebanon by attacking Israel.” Following the violence, both sides warned of risks of a wider conflict; Israel, however, is trying to avoid war with Syria and Lebanon.
“It is true that from [these] events and retaliation that we could find ourselves in a war,” said Israel Ziv, retired Maj. Gen. in the Israeli army. “Yes, we need to defend our interests, but not [take] the unnecessary step that might pull us into this chaotic situation over there in Syria.”
“Iran has been trying for a while to establish an additional front against [Israel] in the Golan Heights through Hezbollah,” said Netanyahu. The Golan Heights has long been disputed for its rich soil and sharing a border with Lebanon and Syria.
The recent violence has raised tensions between Israel and Hezbollah to their highest level since the 34-day war in 2006. But both sides seem hesitant to pursue further escalations.
Hezbollah’s goal of destroying Israel and Zionists—a nationalist and political movement of Jews and Jewish culture that supports the reestablishment of a Jewish homeland in the territory defined as the historic land of Israel—has not changed, however.
“Israelis should wait for their death every day,” said Revolutionary Guards Brig. Gen. Muhammad Hossein Nejat.