The Israel Defense Forces on Monday said that following last night’s security incident along the Syrian border — which saw the army kill four armed men who crossed the border and planted bombs — troops scanned the area and found a gun, as well as a backpack with several more bombs ready for use.
The items were found inside Israel, 25 meters from the border, the army said.
The army said military officers met with UNDOF’s Maj. Gen. Ishwar Hamal in the afternoon to show the UN peacekeepers the scene of the incident.
“At the meeting, the division commander emphasized that the IDF would not allow the security of the residents of the State of Israel and its sovereignty to be harmed, and that the IDF considers the State of Syria responsible for everything that happens on its territory,” the army said in a statement.
During the Sunday night incident, four people crossed into Israeli territory and planted improvised explosive devices inside an unmanned Israel Defense Forces outpost along the Syrian border, the military said earlier Monday.
Soldiers from the Maglan special forces unit and unspecified aircraft opened fire at the four suspects, some of whom were armed, killing them all, IDF Spokesperson Hidai Zilberman told reporters Monday morning. The army also released video of the incident, showing figures approaching a fence near the border and being hit with a missile.
No Israeli soldiers were injured.
The spokesman said the military did not yet know which military or terrorist organization the men belonged to, but the IDF was looking into the matter.
He said it was not immediately clear if it was an isolated incident or if it was tied to ongoing tensions with Hezbollah, which has vowed to carry out some kind of attack on Israel in retaliation for the death of one of its fighters in an airstrike in Syria last month that it attributed to the Jewish state. There has been no comment from the Lebanon-based group.
“I believe in the coming days, we’ll know better about what organization they were a part of,” Zilberman said.
The spokesman said the military was working on “neutralizing” the area where the four militants were operating — disarming the bombs they planted — so that the explosives could be studied in order to determine which organization the men belonged to.
The military on Monday morning released the footage of the men entering Israeli territory. The weapons that the IDF said were in their possession are not clearly visible in the grainy footage, filmed with a night-vision camera.
In the video, the men can be seen stalking through a field and approaching the security fence. The suspects can then be seen standing behind a mound of dirt before being apparently hit with a missile, which caused an explosion where they were standing.
Asked why the IDF was prepared to release the footage from Sunday night, but not from an incident last week in which the military said a group of Hezbollah operatives attempted to carry out an attack on Mount Dov along the Israel-Lebanon border, Zilberman said the decision was made out of “operational” considerations.
The military believes that releasing the footage of the failed Hezbollah attack from July would embarrass the group and perhaps increase the chances of some kind of retaliation.
According to Zilberman, the outpost where the men placed the explosive was located in an enclave in the area of Tel Fares along the border that previously housed a clinic operated by a Christian charity, under the auspices of the IDF, to treat Syrian civilians who were affected by the country’s civil war. It was closed when Syrian dictator Bashar Assad’s forces retook the Syrian Golan in 2018.
In the past, the area was controlled by the Islamic State terror group, which attempted to carry out a small number of attacks along the border.
Over the past weeks, Hezbollah has threatened some form of retaliation for the death of one of its fighters last week in Syria in an airstrike that it attributed to Israel, but which the Jewish state has not officially acknowledged conducting.
Bracing for the attack, the IDF sent an infantry battalion to the Northern Command as reinforcements, along with additional “advanced” firepower in the form of precision-guided surface-to-surface missiles, combat intelligence units and special forces. The military has also ordered its troops and vehicles to keep away from areas along the border that are vulnerable to attack.
Last Monday, the IDF said it thwarted an attempt by Hezbollah to send a team of fighters into the Israeli-controlled territory of Mount Dov, also known as Shebaa Farms, to carry out an attack. According to the military, the Hezbollah cell made it a few meters across the border before IDF troops opened fire at the operatives — apparently not hitting them, but driving them back into Lebanon.
Hezbollah officially denied that an attack had taken place, but did not explicitly dispute that its members had crossed into the Israeli-controlled enclave.
The terror group said a reprisal for its fallen operative in Syria was still to come.
In the past, Hezbollah has vowed to retaliate for losses of its fighters in Syria with attacks on Israel. That was the case in September, when the terror group fired three anti-tank guided missiles at Israeli military targets along the Lebanese border, narrowly missing an IDF armored ambulance with five soldiers inside, after the IDF killed two of its fighters in Syria the month before.
Times of Israel staff contributed to this report