Hezbollah operative hurls Molotov cocktail at Israel from Lebanon

Firebomb explodes near Metulla, damaging cable for water infrastructure; IDF says troops did not return fire

Emanuel (Mannie) Fabian is The Times of Israel's military correspondent

View of the Israeli military security barrier on the border with Lebanon, close to the northern town of Metula, with the Lebanese town of Kfarkela in the background, August 2, 2023. (Emanuel Fabian/Times of Israel)
View of the Israeli military security barrier on the border with Lebanon, close to the northern town of Metula, with the Lebanese town of Kfarkela in the background, August 2, 2023. (Emanuel Fabian/Times of Israel)

A Hezbollah operative in Lebanon, whose identity is known to Israeli security forces, hurled a Molotov cocktail at the Israeli border on Sunday afternoon, the Israel Defense Forces said.

The firebomb caused damage to water infrastructure near the northern town of Metulla.

Some media reports said Israeli troops fired warning shots in response, but a military spokesperson denied this to The Times of Israel.

In a statement, the IDF said that a suspect approached the security barrier near Metulla and hurled a firebomb.

“As a result, slight damage was caused to the indication [sensor] cable of one of the culverts in the area of the fence,” the IDF said.

In recent months, Hezbollah activity has repeatedly been spotted along the border, in incidents that Israel sees as deliberate provocations, including the erection of two tents on the Israeli side of the United Nations-recognized Blue Line in the Mount Dov area. The Iran-backed group later took down one of the tents, while threatening to attack if Israel moves to dismantle the other one.

A Hezbollah flag is seen on the Lebanese side of the Lebanon border, and an Israeli flag seen on the Israeli side, July 19, 2023. (Ayal Margolin/FLASH90)

Other recent incidents have included camouflaged Hezbollah members walking along the border in violation of a UN resolution, and Hezbollah activists crossing the Blue Line (though not the Israeli border fence) on numerous occasions, including attempts to damage the border fence and army surveillance equipment.

Israel and Lebanon do not have a formal border due to territorial disputes; however, they largely abide by the Blue Line. The line is marked with blue barrels along the border and is several meters from the Israeli fence in some areas, which is built entirely within Israeli territory.

In April, dozens of rockets were fired from Lebanon at Israel, injuring three and damaging buildings. Though Israel blamed the attack on the Palestinian terror group Hamas, it was seen as having been carried out with the tacit approval of Hezbollah, which maintains tight control of southern Lebanon.

Separately, in March, the IDF accused Hezbollah of sending a terrorist to infiltrate Israel from Lebanon and plant a bomb at a junction in northern Israel. The blast seriously wounded an Israeli man.

On Saturday, a senior commander in the Lebanese terror group warned that the next war between Israel and Hezbollah would take place in Israel’s Galilee region.

“Our battle will be in the Galilee, and if the enemy and its tanks enter Lebanon, they will not be able to leave,” the commander said in an interview with the Hezbollah-linked Al-Manar TV network, which identified him as Hajj Jihad but blurred his face for the broadcast.

Defense Minister Yoav Gallant (right) and head of the IDF Northern Command, Maj. Gen. Ori Gordin, look toward Lebanon from the Mount Dov area, August 8, 2023. (Ariel Hermoni/Defense Ministry)

The threat came four days after Defense Minister Yoav Gallant toured Israel’s border with Lebanon and warned the head of Iran-backed Hezbollah, Hassan Nasrallah, “not to make a mistake.”

“If… an escalation or conflict develops here, we will return Lebanon to the Stone Age,” Gallant said.

Hezbollah has long been the IDF’s most potent adversary on Israel’s borders, with an estimated arsenal of nearly 150,000 rockets and missiles that can reach anywhere in Israel.

Work on a new border wall with Lebanon began in 2018. By 2020, the military and Defense Ministry Borders and Security Fence Directorate had completed only 15 kilometers (9 miles) of concrete walling along the approximately 130-kilometer (80-mile) border in order to protect the 22 adjacent Israeli villages. Eventually, the plan is to construct a barrier along the entire border — a project that would cost NIS 1.7 billion ($470 million).

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