“And I will set thy border from the Red Sea even unto the sea of the Philistines, and from the wilderness unto the River…” (Exodus 23:31)
Four IDF soldiers, all members of Special Forces, were lightly to moderately wounded in the early hours of Wednesday morning, according to the IDF Spokesman’s Office. They were on patrol along Israel’s northern border when they were injured in an explosion. All four were taken to hospital in Nahariya for treatment. They were reportedly conscious upon arrival. Three underwent surgery, while the fourth was admitted to the intensive care unit, Walla news reported.
Although the army released no further details about the incident, several other sources came forward with conflicting reports.
Lebanon’s state-run National News Agency reported that the soldiers crossed into Lebanese territory and were injured by a landmine. “During the infiltration, an explosion occurred which led to a number of them being wounded,” the Lebanese military said, calling it a “violation of Lebanese sovereignty.”
After an attack out of Lebanon in 1978 left 37 Israelis, including 13 children, dead, Israel invaded southern Lebanon. The IDF remained there until 2000, when then-Prime Minister Ehud Barak informed the UN he would be withdrawing Israeli troops. In response, the UN drew a “blue line,” a demarcation of withdrawal, which its UNIFIL forces monitor. Although both Israel and Lebanon accepted the boundary, neither country agrees that it defines the actual border of their respective territories. Several violations of this line have taken place over the past 13 years, including the kidnapping of two soldiers in 2006 which precipitated the Second Lebanon War, but the past six years have been relatively peaceful.
Lebanese sources claim that the explosion took place inside its territories but on the Israeli side of the blue line. The exact depth of the alleged infiltration is claimed to be anywhere from five to 400 meters inside Lebanon. The Hezbollah-associated Almayadeen network claims the Israeli soldiers were on the Lebanese side of the blue line during the explosion. The Israeli army spokesperson said only that the incident happened “during an overnight operation adjacent to the northern border.”
Lebanese residents reported having heard several explosions, then seeing flares and a flurry of Israeli activity.
The Lebanese army says it has opened an investigation into the incident along with UNIFIL. The IDF, too, says it is investigating what happened.
Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu said, during a tour of IDF facilities in the troubled southern region of Israel, “There is something that the south and the north, and all of the arenas have in common: the IDF soldiers who protect us and our borders. This was the case tonight, as well. We will continue to act responsibly in order to protect the borders of Israel.
“I want to send wishes of a speedy recovery to the wounded – in my name, in the name of the Defense Minister, and in the name of all of you. We will continue to do our job, in order to protect our country.”
In recent months, Israel has increased IDF deployment on its northern border, out of concern that Hezbollahmay be regaining strength. The party, designated a terrorist organization by several countries, has called repeatedly for Israel’s destruction. It was significantly hampered by the Second Lebanon War. Now, as Hezbollah is one of Bashar Assad’s public supporters, there are concerns that Assad is transporting weapons into Lebanon. Several such transports have been intercepted, although Israel refuses to claim responsibility for stopping the transfer.