Hezbollah congratulates self on deadly strike, threatens more
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Hezbollah congratulates self on deadly strike, threatens more

Israel may find itself confronting thousands of Iranian soldiers if it invades Syria, warns editor of Hezbollah mouthpiece

Elhanan Miller is the former Arab affairs reporter for The Times of Israel

Lebanese Hezbollah supporters wave the movement's flag in the village of Kfar Kila in southern Lebanon, near the Lebanon-Israel border on January 28, 2015. (photo credit:AFP/ALI DIA)
Lebanese Hezbollah supporters wave the movement's flag in the village of Kfar Kila in southern Lebanon, near the Lebanon-Israel border on January 28, 2015. (photo credit:AFP/ALI DIA)

A day after Hezbollah’s deadly attack on an IDF convoy on Lebanon’s border with Israel, the organization on Thursday touted the strike as a masterful display of military prowess and intelligence acuity while collecting plaudits from abroad.

The Shiite terror group received letters of congratulation from across the Arab world, including from rival Palestinian factions Hamas and Fatah, according to a report in pro-Hezbollah daily As-Safir.

Mahmoud Abbas’s movement displayed an image of Hezbollah’s claim of responsibility on its official Facebook page.

Hezbollah head Hassan Nasrallah had postponed a much-anticipated appearance from last week to Friday, “opting for a response before the speech, not vice versa,” reported As-Safir.

“This is the first installment of the open account between us and Israel,” As-Safir quoted Nasrallah as saying.

But despite Nasrallah’s promise of more to come, the excited coverage on Lebanese media affiliated with Hezbollah indicated the mission was complete, and characterized it as a job well done.

According to As-Safir, Hezbollah’s attack on the IDF convoy was a necessary response to Israel’s alleged airstrike in Quneitra last week, an attack which had “tried to change the rules of engagement” along the northern border. Israel has not admitted carrying out the strike.

Hezbollah supporters carry the coffin of militant Jihad Mughniyeh during his funeral in a southern Beirut suburb on January 19, 2015. (photo credit: AFP PHOTO /JOSEPH EID)
Hezbollah supporters carry the coffin of militant Jihad Mughniyeh during his funeral in a southern Beirut suburb on January 19, 2015. (photo credit: AFP PHOTO /JOSEPH EID)

“Following the Quneitra crime, a widespread debate took place in the leadership of the Resistance (Hezbollah) regarding options for countermeasures. In consultation with Tehran and Damascus, the Shebaa Farms [the area Israel calls Mount Dov] were chosen [for an attack] as soon as possible, to prevent Israel from changing the rules of engagement and try to impose a new fait accompli along the frontier from south [Lebanon] to the Golan,” read the article.

In fact, Hezbollah conveyed a message of deescalation to Israel following the attack through the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon told Israel Radio Thursday morning.

According to As-Safir, Hezbollah received letters of congratulation from across the Arab world, including from rival Palestinian factions Hamas and Fatah

Hezbollah operatives fired two rockets on the Israeli Golan Heights on Tuesday, the day before the deadly strike, “to divert the sight and distract” the IDF, which “reacted as expected,” the Lebanese newspaper added.

At the same time, a Hezbollah team calling itself “Martyrs of Quneitra” made its way to a forward position near Shebaa Farms, where it spent the night “in a geographically complex and undetected area.”

When the Israeli convoy passed by the border fence just before noon on Wednesday, it was hit by six advanced Kornet missiles, it reported.

Israel responded by shelling southern Lebanon, killing a Spanish peacekeeper, but causing no reported damage to Hezbollah.

“The operation was in fact a one-sided hit, not a confrontation,” As-Safir wrote. “The group completed its mission successfully, retreating smoothly and stealthily, and returned to its positions inside Lebanon without injury.”

The self-congratulation also spread to Lebanon’s political realm, where some officials had panned Hezbollah Wednesday, fearing the attack could drag the country into a wider confrontation with Israel.

“The Israelis must realize that Hassan Nasrallah is the one who calls the shots in our region,” gloated former environment minister and leader of the minuscule Arab Unification Party Wiam Wahhab. “The era of Israel deciding is over.”

Illustrative photo of Iranian Revolutionary Guards (photo credit: @MidEastNews_Eng via Twitter/File)
Illustrative photo of Iranian Revolutionary Guards (photo credit: @MidEastNews_Eng via Twitter/File)

Ibrahim al-Amine, editor-in-chief of Hezbollah mouthpiece Al-Akhbar, indicated in an analysis article Thursday that Hezbollah will only escalate the situation if Israel strikes first.

“If the enemy decides to expand the confrontation, it should expect more painful strikes, worse than yesterday. If it is involved in special operations in Syria or Lebanon, it should [also] expect a response,” Amine warned, insinuating that Hezbollah now regards southwestern Syria as its “home turf” just like southern Lebanon.

“If [Israel] reaches the edge of the abyss and decides to launch a ground incursion on the Golan border and not in southern Lebanon, it should expect to meet the resistance there. It may not realize, however — but I do — that tens of thousands of soldiers from the Iranian Revolutionary Guards will immediately be dispatched to the point of confrontation!”

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