Israeli soldiers came under attack in the northern Har Dov area near the border with Lebanon on Wednesday morning. Two were killed and 7 injured when their army vehicle was targeted by anti-tank missiles. At the same time, IDF positions in the area were hit with mortar shells. Israel responded to the attack with multiple artillery strikes in southern Lebanon. The Times of Israel liveblogged events as they unfolded.
IDF soldier may be abducted – Hezbollah TV
The live broadcast of al Manar TV network, a station affiliated with Hezbollah, is saying an IDF soldier may have been kidnapped from an army vehicle targeted with an anti-tank missile.
Ghajar residents say house hit by rocket
The residents of the northern village of Ghajar say a house is on fire after it was hit by a rocket fired from Lebanon, Ynet reports.
Hezbollah claims attack
Hezbollah claims responsibility for the attack in northern Israel today, in which an IDF vehicle was hit by an anti-tank missile.
Incident along border a ‘very severe’ attack
Security officials hint that the attack along Israel’s northern border is “one of the most severe” attacks of its kind.
The attack was reportedly a kidnapping attempt by Hezbollah.
Generals convene to discuss attack
The IDF chief of Staff Benny Gantz convenes his top generals to assess the situation following this morning’s anti-tank fire directed at an army vehicle and the shelling of army positions along Israel’s northern border.
Netanyahu warns, do not test our patience
Even before the smoke has cleared over who is behind a cross-border attack along Israel’s northern border, Prime Minister Netanyahu issues a warning to the attackers, saying, “I suggest you do not test our patience.”
Haifa, Rosh Pina airports close after attack
The Haifa and Rosh Pina airports have been shut down due to fear that they may be targeted by projectiles fired from Lebanon, Ynet reports.
Meanwhile, Arab media sources quote Israeli officials as saying Hezbollah tried to kidnap soldiers but failed.
PM warns Hezbollah may end up like Hamas
Netanyahu reacts to the incident along the northern border during a ceremony in Sderot: “During these very moments the IDF is responding to events in the north. Whoever tries to challenge us along the northern border, I suggest that they come and see what happened here, not far from Sderot, in the Gaza Strip.
“This last summer Hamas sustained the largest hit since its establishment and the IDF is prepared to act with force on every front,” Netanyahu said.
— Raphael Ahren
No fear of kidnapped soldiers
Israeli officials say there is no possibility of an Israeli soldier or soldiers being kidnapped during the attack along the Lebanon border.
PM en route to defense HQ for consultations
Netanyahu cuts short his visit to Sderot and rushes to the Defense Ministry headquarters in Tel Aviv for security consultations.
— Raphael Ahren
6 soldiers taken to Safed hospital
Six soldiers are being evacuated to Ziv medical center in Safed after sustaining light to medium injuries.
Hezbollah hints more attacks to come
Hezbollah says in a statement that a squad from the “fallen martyrs of the Quneitra brigade” attacked an Israeli convoy in retaliation for an unconfirmed Israeli airstrike in Syria last week that killed 12.
The organization says this was its first announcement, suggesting more attacks ahead.
IDF says ‘this is not our last response’
The IDF spokesperson says the shelling of Lebanese villages is “not our last response” to the cross-border attack.
‘IDF fired at least 22 shells into Lebanon’
A Lebanese security source tells Reuters that the IDF fired at least 22 artillery shells into Lebanon.
Israeli media reports that sporadic mortar fire hits Mount Hermon and Mount Dov areas.
IDF strikes several Hezbollah positions
The IDF says it attacked several Hezbollah targets inside Lebanon.
Shelling from both Lebanon into Israel and from Israel into Lebanon renewed after a short lull.
A Channel 2 analyst notes that Hezbollah is not firing at civilian targets so far.
‘Hamas may join Hezbollah, allow rockets from Gaza’
A senior intelligence official tells The Times of Israel that Hamas may join Hezbollah in an effort to cozy up to Iran.
Hamas over the past few days clarified that it supports Hezbollah’s right to respond to the assassination of senior members, for which it blames Israel. The official says Hamas may not suffice with a statement this time around but may actually allow rocket fire from Gaza into Israel.
The official confirms that dozens of Hezbollah advisers returned urgently from Iraq to Lebanon and this may mean the initial assessments that Hezbollah is not interested in a serious escalation may be wrong.
In a telling development, Hezbollah has paid all its members’ salaries early, before the end of the month, even though the Shiite organization usually pays salaries on the first day of the month, the official says. He says that until now it hasn’t been clear why Hezbollah paid the salaries yesterday. Today’s attack, and what may follow, may provide a reason.
— Avi Issacharoff
‘Hezbollah evacuated its posts before attack’
The Turkish news agency Anatolia reports that Hezbollah evacuated its security installations in the southern neighborhood of Beirut in preparation for the attack.
Meanwhile at least one UNIFIL soldier from a Spanish battalion was wounded in the crossfire.
First images emerge from cross-border attack
Hezbollah shows fake image of ‘hit’ IDF jeep
A Hezbollah-affiliated TV network shows a picture of a burning jeep and claimed it was the IDF vehicle hit in today’s attack.
The picture is actually of a jeep hit in Afghanistan, at least 7 years ago:
Lebanese schools close in fear of IDF response
Lebanese reports say schools in Bint Jbeil, near the border, were evacuated in fear of the IDF’s retaliation for the attack on a convoy.
UNIFIL peacekeeper said killed in Lebanon
A UNIFIL spokesperson says one peacekeeper was killed in south Lebanon border fire, Lebanon’s Daily Star reports.
Israeli reports say the peacekeeper was a Spaniard.
‘Israel asks UNIFIL men not to leave posts’
A Lebanese news agency reports that Israel has asked UNIFIL peacekeepers not to abandon their positions in south Lebanon. The request follows the news of one Spanish peacekeeper dying from wounds sustained in the crossfire.
Gantz in Northern Command for briefing
IDF Chief of General Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz arrives for briefings with OC Northern Command and other senior officers in northern units.
Livni says IDF will respond ‘with full force’
Hatnua leader Tzipi Livni says “it should be clear to everyone – whether this is Iran through Hezbollah or the Syrians – harming soldiers or civilians will be met with a forceful response and without compromise by the IDF. I sat in the cabinet for the past year and a half and our message to Hezbollah is that the IDF is prepared for any scenario on any front.”
Livni is on a tour of the north along with her colleague at the helm of the Zionist Camp, Isaac Herzog.
“Harming IDF soldiers means harming Israel. We came here to embrace residents of the north and to promise we will do whatever it takes to protect their security and daily routine. Hezbollah is part of a radical Islamist axis and must be met with full force. The IDF, its commanders and its troops know how to do this accurately and responsibly. We have the right to respond to any attack and it is important to send a message about our unity. The Golan is not up for negotiations, it is a part of Israel!” says Livni.
Images emerge of IDF vehicles, seem authentic
Unlike the previous image released by Hezbollah, the image of the burning vehicles shown in the picture below seems to be authentic.
The Times of Israel cannot verify the image. However, it seems to clearly show the border security fence.
Israel should react disproportionately – FM
Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman says, “We must change the attitude Israel used until today, and respond to the rocket fire against our sovereign territory very strongly and disproportionately, as China or the US would react to similar attacks.”
Speaking during a meeting with his Chinese counterpart in Beiijng, Liberman says he “expects Israel to receive the support of its friends around the world to such a response, as a part of an attitude the whole world needs to adopt for coping with terrorism… an attitude that will be tough and severe and not tolerate provocations like the one we have seen today from Hezbollah.”
IDF chief heads back to Kirya HQ from north
The IDF Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz is on his way back to the Kirya military headquarters, Channel 2 reports.
IRGC supports ‘the resistance against Zionists’
The Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps commended Hezbollah on its cross-border attack against Israel, Ynet reports.
“We will stand by the resistance against the Zionists,” the IRGC says in a statement.
7 wounded, 5 lightly, may be home in 24 hours
As of now, seven soldiers are hospitalized in Ziv Hospital in Safed. Of the seven, five sustained light injuries and may even be released home by the evening or within 24 hours. The other two soldiers hospitalized are in moderate condition.
2 Palestinians detained in W. Bank with knives
Two Palestinians, a brother and a sister, were detained by IDF troops and were found to be carrying knives. The sister was apprehended after hurling rocks at IDF soldiers and her brother was captured shortly thereafter in the Gush Etzion junction. The two were taken for interrogation and are suspected of planning to carry out a terror attack.
Video footage emerges of attack along border
A clip aired on Channel 10 shows the first minutes immediately after this morning’s cross-border attack. The IDF vehicle attacked can be seen burning on the horizon.
UNIFIL mediating ceasefire efforts
UNIFIL is leading talks on both the Israeli and Lebanese sides in order to reach a ceasefire as soon as possible, NRG reports.
The UNIFIL commander issued a statement earlier calling on the sides to act responsibly and avoid escalation. A Spanish UNIFIL soldier was killed in the crossfire earlier today.
2 soldiers in Rambam hospital ‘conscious, will not need surgery’
Dr. Hani Bahus, head of the trauma unit at Rambam Hospital in Haifa, says two wounded soldiers who arrived with shrapnel injuries to their abdomens and chests are “fully conscious and do not require surgery,” Ynet reports.
2 soldiers killed in Hezbollah attack
IDF releases for publication: Two soldiers were killed in this morning’s Hezbollah cross-border attack. One of the dead is a company commander and the other is an infantryman.
FM sends condolences for death of UNIFIL man
Foreign Minister Liberman speaks to his Spanish counterpart Jose Manuel Garcia Margallo and expresses his condolences for the death of the Spanish UNIFIL peacekeeper who was wounded during the exchange of fire between the IDF and Hezbollah and later succumbed to his injuries.
Liberman tells Margallo that Hezbollah is responsible for the terror attack and Israel sees the Lebanese government as responsible for any act of terrorism originating in Lebanon. Liberman further tells Margallo that Israel will not tolerate Hezbollah using Syrian territory to attack.
— Raphael Ahren
Soldiers were in unarmored vehicles
Despite the high level of alert in the north over the past few days, the two IDF vehicles hit by Hezbollah this morning were not armored.
According to Haaretz, the vehicles hit were Isuzu D-Max type pickups.
Images from IDF shelling of Al-Majidiyah
The IDF fired some 50 shells into south Lebanon on Wednesday after the cross-border attack by Hezbollah.
Lebanese PM slams Israeli ‘escalation’
Lebanese Prime Minister Tammam Salam says “Israel’s escalation can be an opening to dangerous situations which do not serve peace and stability in the region.”
Salam adds that “Lebanon keeps to UN resolution 1701 and calls on the international community to stop any Israeli aspirations to gamble on the security of the region.”
Hezbollah used Kornet anti-tank missiles
The anti-tank missiles fired by Hezbollah in the cross-border attack were Kornet type missiles.
The Kornet is a Russian anti-tank guided missile (ATGM), also known by its NATO reporting name AT-14 Spriggan.
Image of mangled IDF car hit by missile
An Israeli military vehicle after being hit by a Kornet anti-tank missile along the northern border.
Soldier recounts moment of missile strike
Meir Shmueli, the father a wounded soldier, tells Channel 2 that his son told him that after one of the two vehicles traveling along the Lebanon border was hit by a missile, the highest-ranking soldier on the other vehicle immediately told the soldiers on board to evacuate the jeep.
It was hit by a second missile just seconds afterwards.
IDF declares closed military zone near border
OC Northern Command Yair Golan announces a closed military zone in the area between Kibbutz Dafna in Upper Galilee and the village of Mas’ade in the Golan Heights.
The towns of Dan, Ghajar, Kala’at Namrud, Neve Ativ, Majdal Shams and the Banias River are all inside the zone closed by the army.
IDF checking whether Hezbollah fired from inside Israeli territory
The IDF is checking whether the Hezbollah operatives who fired the anti-tank missiles at two IDF vehicles entered an Israel-controlled zone on the western slopes of Mount Dov, Ynet reports.
If true, the operatives entered Israel, fired the missiles, and then escaped back to Lebanon.
Rosh Pina, Haifa airfields reopen, partially
The Rosh Pina and Haifa airports will reopen only to internal commercial flights (by carriers Arkia and Nesher). Flights by private jets and light planes are still prohibited from taking off or landing in these two airfields.
Envoy asks UN to condemn Hezbollah
Israel’s ambassador to the UN Ron Prosor tells the UN Security Council that the international community “cannot continue to ignore” the threat posed by Hezbollah.
Prosor says Israel will not be able to remain quiet while Hezbollah harms Israelis and will use all necessary measures to protect its citizens.
The UN envoy further demands that the international community condemn Hezbollah, insist that it disarm, and see that the Lebanese government withstand its obligations to the international community.
He also sends his condolences to the Spanish government for the loss of a Spanish UNIFIL soldier who was killed in the crossfire.
Route 999, the scene of the attack
Route 999, Israel’s northernmost road where the Hezbollah attack on two IDF vehicles took place, is not an exclusively military road; it is used by civilians as well.
Rivlin to curtail his US trip
President Reuven Rivlin is cutting short his trip to the US following the Hezbollah attack. The president will return to Israel immediately after his speech marking International Holocaust Remembrance Day at the UN General Assembly, at noon New York time.
“During times like these, a president’s duty is to visit the injured and the bereaved families,” says the president.
Hezbollah supporters said to hand out candy
A Twitter user in Lebanon posts an image purporting to show Hezbollah supporters in Beirut handing out candy to celebrate the deadly cross-border attack this morning.
— Hasan Shaaban (@hasanshaaban) January 28, 2015
Hezbollah fired 5 missiles at convoy
Hezbollah fired 5 Kornet guided anti-tank missiles at IDF vehicles this morning, Channel 2 reports. The first hit the Isuzu D-Max pickup truck, killing the company commander and another soldier.
The occupants of the two trailing vehicles quickly jumped out and found cover, moments before the other four missiles hit. The move likely saved their lives.
No compromises with terror, says Livni
Hatnua party chief Tzipi Livni tells Channel 2 that “the IDF is strong, and it knows what to do.”
The former foreign minister adds that there can be “no compromise” with Islamic terror.
“We must act with strength against terror,” she says.
In a not-so-veiled swipe at Netanyahu, Livni emphasizes that Israel’s freedom of action depends on the strength of its alliance with the US and its quiet partnerships with Middle Eastern countries who also see a threat from terrorism.
Top-level defense meeting in Tel Aviv
IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz meets with Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon and other top security officials at the Kirya IDF headquarters in Tel Aviv, Channel 2 reports.
They are weighing options in the wake of this morning’s strike, including a broadening of the IDF response.
‘Israel, Hezbollah consider flare-up over’
Channel 2 military analyst Roni Daniel says that messages passed via the UN indicate that this current flare-up may be over, from both Israel’s and Hezbollah’s point of view.
Daniel gives no source for his assessment.
His colleague Ehud Ya’ari says that Hezbollah wants Israel to let it build up its military infrastructure in Syria, and that this strike was a message telling Israel to let it do so undisturbed.
Ghajar residents tell of mortar strike on town
Residents of the Golan Heights Alawite town of Ghajar on the Israel-Lebanon border tell Ynet that a Hezbollah mortar shell scored a direct hit on a house in the town.
“At the beginning they fired a few mortar shells,” says a resident. “After that a house was hit directly. The whole house went up in flames. But thank God we can say that there were no people in the home, it was a miracle that no one was hurt.”
Another resident says that students in the town spent two and a half hours in shelters.
They also say no one was allowed in or out of the town for several hours.
Names of slain IDF soldiers released
The names of the two IDF soldiers killed in the Hezbollah strike this morning are released: Staff-Sergeant Dor Chaim Nini, 20, from Shtulim, and Major Yochai Kalangel, 25, from Har Gilo.
Kalangel was a company commander in the Tzabar Battalion of the Givati Brigade.
The families of the fallen have been notified, the IDF says.
— Laura Ben-David (@LauraBenDavd) January 28, 2015
PM vows to retaliate for attack
Netanyahu vows to retaliate the deadly for the cross-border attack on the Lebanese border, saying that “whoever is behind today’s attack will pay the full price.”
“With the assistance of Hezbollah, Iran has been for some time trying to open another front against Israel on the Golan Heights. We are acting with force and determination against these attempts.” He adds that the sole purpose of any Israeli military action is to protect Israeli civilians.
Lebanon and Syria bear the responsibility for any attack that emanates from their respective territories, Netanyahu adds.
The prime minister is currently convening security consultations in the Defense Ministry headquarters in Tel Aviv, attended by Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz and Shin Bet chief Yoram Cohen.
— Raphael Ahren
Dor Nini to be buried tomorrow in Shtulim
SSgt. Dor Nini, 20, will be laid to rest tomorrow in Moshav Shtulim, where he grew up.
Nini, a Givati Brigade infantryman, was killed earlier today in the Hezbollah missile attack.
Channel 2 reports that Nini would raise money for fellow soldiers in need, and that he texted his girlfriend this morning, telling her not to worry, since he would be home soon.
IDF releases photo of Dor Nini
A photo emerges of Dor Nini, 20, killed in today’s attack.
Nini, an infantryman in the Givati Brigade, fought in Gaza last summer during Operation Protective Edge.
IDF spox: Israel aware of consequences of response
As Israel considers its response, IDF spokesman Brig.-Gen. Moti Almoz says that the army is fully aware of the possible consequences of it reaction.
Almoz adds that the IDF is on high alert in the north.
“If needed, we will use force,” he says.
Photos emerge of Yochai Kalangel
Images emerge of Yochai Kalangel, 25, the IDF company commander killed today.
He was promoted posthumously to the rank of major.
‘Hezbollah may not be satisfied with attack’
Maj. Gen. (res.) Amos Yadlin, the newest addition to the left-wing Zionist Camp list, says on Channel 2 that Israel has several strategic goals in its current flare-up against Hezbollah.
Israel wants to prevent Hezbollah from creating a military network on the Syrian Golan Heights, restore its deterrence, and maintain quiet in northern Israel.
There is a tension between the goals, says ex-IDF intel chief Yadlin.
Yadlin also warns that Hezbollah “may not be satisfied with what it did today,” and may carry out further attacks.
Echoing faction head Tzipi Livni’s line earlier today, Yadlin suggested Israel’s range of action is limited by tensions between Obama and Netanyahu.
Genocides will continue unless UN priorities change: Rivlin
Speaking to the UN General Assembly in New York Wednesday, President Reuven Rivlin warns that unless the world changes its priorities, genocides will continue to be perpetrated.
“At the end of the day, this Assembly too, like any political institution, is motivated by many different considerations and interests,” says Rivlin. “Even if we agree on clear red lines – that is not enough. We must agree that in the fight against genocide – the humanitarian and moral consideration must take precedence over economic, political and other interests.”
Rivlin continues: “Unless the moral fire burns within us, the lesson of the Holocaust will never be learned.
“Communities and nations will continue to be murdered, children, women, men and the elderly will continue to march to their death to the enlightened music of the ‘orchestra of death’, against the background of a cynical and apathetic world, and through no fault of their own.
“The oath of “Never Again” will remain hollow and defiled, and we, all of us, will remain forever – [concentration] camp inmates.”
Rivlin adds that accusations of murder and war crimes against Israel “not only… confuse between partner and enemy; they also sabotage the ability of this Assembly to effectively fight the phenomenon of genocide.”
Notably, Rivlin spoke at some length about the Armenian Genocide. Israel has not recognize the 1915 murder of over one million Armenians by Turkey as a genocide, but Rivlin has been outspoken in support of recognition. When he became president, however, he reluctantly withdrew that support.
Dor Nini to be buried at 2:30 Thursday
Staff Sergeant Dor Nini will be laid to rest at 2:30 tomorrow in Moshav Shtulim.
France asks for UNSC meeting on violence
France on Wednesday requests an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council to discuss the flareup of violence on the Israeli-Lebanon border, diplomats say.
Name of slain Spanish UN peacekeeper released
The Spanish Defense Ministry releases the name of the UN peacekeeper killed in the IDF response to Hezbollah’s cross-border attack today.
Corporal Francisco Javier Soria Toledo, 36, was married, and hailed from the city of Malaga.
This was Toledo’s second tour in the UN Interim Force in Lebanon, UNIFIL.
Security Council to meet Wednesday night
The UN Security Council meet at 11:00 p.m. Israel time to discuss the Israel-Lebanon flare up, AFP reports.
US backs Israel’s ‘right to self defense’
The United States stands by Israel after it exchanged fire with Hezbollah in Lebanon in their most serious clashes in five years.
“We support Israel’s legitimate right to self-defense and continue to urge all parties to respect the blue line between Israel and Lebanon,” State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki tells reporters.
She adds that Washington condemned Hezbollah’s attack on an Israeli military convoy.
The US condemnation comes shortly before the UN Security Council meets on the crisis in New York.
“We urge all parties to refrain from any action that could escalate the situation,” Psaki says, adding Washington is closely monitoring the situation.
Maj. Yochai Kalangel to be buried Thursday
Major Yochai Kalangel, the company commander killed this morning during a Hezbollah attack, will be laid to rest tomorrow at 11:00 a.m. in the Mount Herzl military ceremony in Jerusalem.
Israel decides to hold its fire
After a top-level security meeting Wednesday evening, Netanyahu decides not to escalate further, Ynet reports.
IDF forces in the north will remain on high alert.
Schools in north, Mt. Hermon to open Thursday
Schools will be open in northern Israel tomorrow, Israel Radio reports.
In addition, the Mt. Hermon ski site will be open, after it was evacuated today in wake of the Hezbollah attack.
Last text message: ‘You are the love of my life’
Twenty year old Dor Nini, killed today in the Hezbollah attack, wrote to his girlfriend Sahar an hour before he was killed by a Kornet missile, Ynet reports.
“I’ll call soon!!!!” Nini wrote. “The love of my life. I love you. You are my life. You are my biggest love and I love you the most in the world. I will talk to you soon. I love you and miss you deeply.”
He will be buried tomorrow in his hometown of Shtulim at 2:30 p.m.
We will chase those who try to harm us: Ya’alon
Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon promises to punish those responsible for today’s missile attack that left 2 soldiers dead.
“We will continue to pursue, at every time and place, the terrorists and those who sent them, and we will put our hand on everyone who wants to disrupt the lives of Israeli civilians,” he says in a statement. “Israel will show zero tolerance toward terrorist organizations, as we have done to this point, and will know to operate with full power and determination toward anyone who challenges it and tries to hurt its citizens. We will not let terrorist organization and rogue countries harm or try to harm the security of Israelis.”
Ya’alon also called on residents of the north to continue in their routines.
US blasts Hezbollah for attack
In a statement today, US State Department spokesman Jen Psaki pans Hezbollah for its cross-border attack, saying, “Hezbollah continues to incite violence and instability inside Lebanon by attacking Israel and by its presence and fighting inside Syria, which violates Lebanese leaders’ agreed policy of dissociating Lebanon from foreign conflicts.”
Hezbollah attack won’t affect Iran talks
State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki says that Washington is unaware of any Iranian involvement in the Hezbollah strike on an IDF convoy in northern Israel earlier on Wednesday, and that the incident will have no effect on Iranian nuclear talks.