Anticipating Hezbollah action, Israel shells Lebanon border
IDF fires artillery for fourth successive day amid concerns terror group will take advantage of poor weather to ‘avenge’ death of Samir Kuntar
The Israel Defense Forces shelled the Lebanese border for the fourth consecutive day on Sunday, aiming to deter an attack by Lebanese terror group Hezbollah.
The group’s leader, Hassan Nasrallah, has repeatedly vowed revenge for the assassination of arch-terrorist Samir Kuntar two weeks ago, which has been attributed to Israel.
Anticipating such a response, the army has been firing artillery rounds at the border fence. The army reportedly expected the terror group to take advantage of the stormy weather and the poor visibility to launch a strike.
On Sunday, Nasrallah reiterated the group’s threats of revenge, saying the retaliation will “certainly come.” His comments echoed those he made the week before, in which he warned that retaliation for Kuntar’s assassination was “inevitable.”
“The Israelis are worried and they should be worried — along the border, inside Israel and outside of it,” he was quoted as saying by Lebanese news site Naharnet. “The Israelis are hiding like rats along the border.”
Nasrallah added that Hezbollah was not afraid of Israeli threats of a crushing response to any potential attack, adding that the terror group “cannot tolerate that the blood of our jihadist fighters and brothers be shed anywhere in this world.”
IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot fired back at the terror group last Monday, promising swift retaliation for any strike, and “harsh results.”
Kuntar was killed in an airstrike on a building outside Damascus on December 19, 2015. In the immediate aftermath of the incident, Nasrallah alleged that Israel may have coordinated the hit with Syrian rebel “terrorists” operating in the area. The Assad regime also blamed “terrorist groups” for the strike.
There was no official Israeli confirmation of the attack, although officials expressed satisfaction over Kuntar’s death. Kuntar was with a group of commanders from different terrorist groups that were planning attacks on Israel, unsourced Israeli reports said.
A Lebanese Druze, Kuntar became infamous for a brutal 1979 raid from Lebanon in which he helped kidnap an Israeli family from Nahariya, then smashed the head of a four-year-old Israeli girl, Einat Haran, with his rifle butt, killing her. Three other Israelis, including her father, Danny Haran, were killed in the attack. Kuntar was 16 at the time, a member of the Palestine Liberation Front.
He spent 29 years in an Israeli prison before being traded to Hezbollah in 2008 in exchange for the bodies of IDF soldiers Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser. After that, he took on a senior role in the group, was honored by then-Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and by Syrian President Bashar Assad, and helped to organize Syrian Druze on the Golan Heights and elsewhere into terror cells charged with carrying out attacks against Israel.
Syrian media said that among the dead in the strike was also Farhan Shaalan, a commander in the Syrian anti-Israel resistance group founded by Kuntar and others. Those reports said that senior Hezbollah members were also present in the building at the time of the attack.