Hezbollah fighters on Tuesday attacked an Israeli convoy with a roadside bomb planted inside Israeli territory, injuring two soldiers and triggering concerns that the Iran-backed terror group may be shifting its posture toward the Jewish state and risking deterioration along the Israel-Lebanon border.
The attack – which was quickly claimed by Hezbollah – follows a Sunday incident in which IDF soldiers opened fire on what seems to have been a cross-border infiltration attempt from Lebanon. It marked the first time that the Shiite organization had taken credit for an attack since last March. Subsequent months had seen Hezbollah deepen its involvement in the Syrian conflict, to the point where its fighting for the Bashar al-Assad regime has now become a matter of open boasting for Iranian military leaders.
Most analysts nonetheless consider Hezbollah’s involvement in the region’s over-three-year conflict – involvement which has among other things dragged Lebanon into the Syrian war and brought Hezbollah’s fighters into Iraq – to have stressed its resources. The organization remains capable of saturation bombing and perhaps even invading Israeli population centers – a summer analysis by Israeli military analyst Amos Harel sketched out multiple scenarios – but Hezbollah leaders are widely thought to be uninterested in a near-term escalation with Jerusalem.
Analysts suggested that the group’s willingness to nonetheless risk a security deterioration was part of an effort to relieve pressure on the group. Veteran Arab affairs journalist Avi Issacharoff suggested that Hezbollah was seeking to brush back Israeli efforts at interdicting advanced weapons, which Hezbollah has been smuggling out of Syria and stockpiling in preparation for a future conflagration against Israel.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday, speaking to the country’s cabinet, contextualized the incident against the backdrop of the regional crisis:
“We proved that we respond with force against any attempt to attack us, whether it is from the South, the North, or any other sector,” Netanyahu said.
“We are witness to threats accumulating around us, threats of which the whole world is now aware, and is even dealing with some of them.”
These threats, he said, necessitate investing massively in security, as well as investing heavily in communities along the confrontation borders.
Various organs of the Israeli government were explicit in holding the Lebanese government accountable for attacks originating in its sovereign territory.
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