The Lebanese terror group Hezbollah publicized new footage from its July 2006 attack that launched the Second Lebanon War.
Three IDF soldiers were killed and two — Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev — were captured in the raid. Five more IDF soldiers were killed shortly thereafter in a failed Israeli rescue attempt.
The 34-day war, which saw thousands of Hezbollah rockets pummeling northern towns, claimed the lives of 165 Israelis, including 44 civilians. Over 1,100 Lebanese, including both Hezbollah fighters and civilians, were killed.
On Saturday, al-Mayadeen, a television channel affiliated with the Shiite organization, broadcast previously unreleased footage of Hezbollah fighters training for the attack.
The broadcast is part of a three-episode documentary series commemorating the war’s 10-year anniversary. It is seen in Israel as part of Hezbollah’s efforts to rehabilitate its image in Lebanon as the cause for the country’s suffering, both resulting from the 2006 war and due to its active participation in the Syrian civil war in support of Iranian and Assad regime forces.
The Saturday broadcast showed Hezbollah commandos training for the raid, which was said to have taken three months of planning. The training, according to al-Mayadeen, was under the watchful eye of Hezbollah commander Imad Mughniyeh, who was seen attending the last rehearsal carried out before the raid itself.
In the footage, Mughniyeh is shown giving instructions to the fighters, and can be heard saying, “someone just needs to fire at them.”
Long wanted by Israel for his role in Hezbollah terror attacks, Mughniyeh was assassinated in Syria in 2008.
The broadcast also included reconnaissance footage taken by Hezbollah of the site along the border, Point 105 in the IDF’s parlance, near the Lebanese village of Aita el-Sha’ab, where the attack took place. Audio of IDF radio communications, including Ehud Goldwasser’s voice shortly before the attack, were included in the footage.
Similar videos were released by Hezbollah in 2007 and 2012, including footage from the attack and audio from the IDF’s communications that day. The video released in 2012 included the part of the raid in which Hezbollah fightered opened fire on an IDF hummer and crossed the border into Israeli territory. The clip ended right as the Hezbollah commandos reach the ruined vehicle.
The releases often come as the group faces political pressure at home and seeks to boost morale by recalling what it refers to as a heroic operation.
According to the broadcast, the entire operation began at 8:40 a.m. on the morning of July 12, 2006, with Hezbollah shelling of Israeli towns and IDF border posts intended as a distraction from the raid. The raid was over by 9:04, al-Mayadeen boasted, with all operatives in “safe and distant locations.”
The Saturday broadcast boasts that Khaled Bazi, commander of the Hezbollah cell that carried out the raid, visited the spot repeatedly in the three months before it took place.
Israeli forces were aware of the heightened activity, el-Mayadeen claimed, but did not know what it signified. “Israel had information about the desire and preparations of Hezbollah to kidnap soldiers, but had no answer to the question of where and when,” El-Mayadeen reported, according to a translation by the Israeli news site Ynet.
This version is corroborated by Israeli media reports after the war, which noted IDF leaders had warned of a Hezbollah raid, and even an attempted kidnapping, in the weeks leading up to the attack.
Israel recently marked the 10-year anniversary of the Second Lebanon War, with IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot saying that the conflict had dealt “a severe blow to the Hezbollah organization, reestablished Israeli deterrence,” and helped bring about “a sustained and stable quiet along the Lebanese border that is a boon to civilians on both sides of the border.”
In a letter to troops on the tenth anniversary of the war, Eisenkot, who served as the army’s chief of operations during the war, acknowledged the command failures of 2006, but said that they had driven the army to massively improve its capabilities, training and equipment, as well as emergency preparedness for the homefront in the event of massive missile barrages on Israel’s cities.
“We see the dramatic advances we’ve made in the years [since 2006]. The IDF of 2016 is prepared, trained and equipped… The regimen of training for IDF fighters has increased and improved. Steps were taken to improve the readiness and operational capabilities of the reserves,” he said earlier this month.
The threat from Lebanon has not abated, he wrote, but “I am certain and sure that if the order is given, we will be able to carry out the IDF’s mission — to protect the country, ensure its existence, and if necessary, win a war.”
The letter was published as part of a new website established by the IDF to commemorate the ten-year anniversary of that war.
The IDF’s website includes previously unseen footage and audio recordings of IDF battlefield communications, testimonies of commanders and soldiers, and a site commemorating those who fell in battle during the fighting.
Goldwasser and Regev’s remains were retrieved in a prisoner exchange deal with Hezbollah in 2008. Israel released five Lebanese nationals, including arch-terrorist Samir Kuntar, who was killed this year in Syria, and the bodies of over 150 Hezbollah members.
The terror group promised to reveal new information on the exchange deal in the third part of the series.