Hezbollah denied Lebanese media reports late Sunday that the Israeli Air Force struck targets in the southern part of the country. The reports, following days of alleged “mock raids” by Israel, claimed a transmission tower was hit.
However the Shi’ite terror group, whose TV station initially reported the “strike,” later said the blast was merely caused by a stun grenade, and Lebanese state TV said the same.
Tensions are acutely high on and across Israel’s northern border, following a reported Israeli airstrike on Syria early last Wednesday, which apparently hit a convoy of SA-17 missiles en route to Hezbollah and damaged a Syrian WMD research facility.
Lebanon’s FutureTV said the explosion late Sunday was heard at approximately 10:30 PM local time in the area of Al-Fuar, near the coastal city of Tyre. Hezbollah, whose stronghold is in southern Lebanon, sealed off access to the area, according to the report.
The Hezbollah-run Al-Manar television station initially reported that it was the country’s anti-aircraft system which first detected Israeli aircraft entering Lebanese airspace. Sky News in Arabic also reported that Israeli planes were seen in the area. Later, though, Hezbollah denied there had been an Israeli raid.
Israel had no official comment on the reports.
Earlier Sunday, Lebanon’s Foreign Minister Adnan Mansour protested three successive days of reported Israeli “mock raids” over Lebanon, and branded last Wednesday’s strike in Syria as an act of “aggression” against Lebanon, too.
Mansour urged a diplomatic and economic boycott of Israel, declaring, “Israeli jets continue to invade Lebanon’s airspace every day. We must stand up against the Israeli attacks, but not just with calls, statements and condemnation.”
Also Sunday, in his first comments since an airstrike reportedly carried out by Israel targeted his country, President Bashar Assad said Syria’s military was capable of confronting any “aggression.”
In the aftermath of that alleged attack early Wednesday, Syria said the target was a scientific research center, while US officials indicated that the strike had destroyed a convoy of anti-aircraft weapons bound for Hezbollah.
Syrian state television said Assad spoke during a meeting with visiting top Iranian official Saeed Jalili.
On Sunday morning, Defense Minister Ehud Barak hinted that Israel was involved in last week’s strike. Barak said Israel was adamant that advanced weapons systems should not be allowed to reach Lebanon from Syria.
Israel has not commented directly on the strike, but in the days ahead of the attack, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other top officials repeatedly warned of the dangers of Syrian weapons falling into the hands of Hezbollah and other hostile elements in the region.