The Israel Defense Forces on Sunday said a Hezbollah member who was documented being accosted by angry Lebanese after taking part in a rocket attack against Israel had previously been filmed near the border in civilian clothing.
In a Twitter post, Arabic-language spokesperson Avichay Adraee said this was further proof of the terror group’s “disregard for Lebanon’s sovereignty, Lebanese sects and international resolutions.”
Under UN Resolution 1701 that ended the Second Lebanon War, Hezbollah is banned from operating in the country’s south. However, Israel says the group has ignored this directive and is deeply entrenched along its border.
Druze residents of Chouya on Friday halted the Hezbollah crew, including the man named in Arabic media as Ali Kajak, with its rocket launcher that had fired into Israel, and detained its members until the Lebanese Army arrived, according to media reports and video footage.
Some villagers could be heard protesting: “Hezbollah is firing rockets from between homes so that Israel hits us back.”
Adraee shared photos of Kajak, writing: “Ali was near the Israeli border a while ago in civilian clothes, as is usual for Hezbollah terrorists,” Adraee wrote, while sharing photos of Kajak apparently taken by Israeli intelligence gatherers.
“This is further evidence of the terrorist party’s disregard for Lebanese sovereignty, Lebanese sects and international decisions,” he said.
هذا هو المدعو علي كجك مخرب #حزب_الله الذي أطلق الصواريخ على المناطق المفتوحة في إسرائيل الجمعة وضبط في #شويا، علي كان قرب الحدود الاسرائيلية قبل فترة بلباس مدني- كعادة مخربي حزب الله- يرتدون الزي المدني ليخرقوا القرارات الدولية التي تلزم الدولة اللبنانية.
— افيخاي ادرعي (@AvichayAdraee) August 8, 2021
According to Adraee, Kajak carried out the rocket fire in civilian clothing, and near the Druze village, with the intention of dragging Lebanon to a military confrontation with Israel.
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett during a Sunday government meeting praised the Druze residents that detained the rocket-launching squad.
“There is a very important awakening of many citizens in [Lebanon] against Hezbollah and the Iranian involvement in the country, which in the midst of the severe economic and political crisis there are also embroiling them on the front with Israel,” he said, charging the Lebanese government with the responsibility to stop rocket fire into Israel.
The Lebanese Army arrived in Chouya to confiscate the rocket launcher seen in the video and said it arrested four suspects involved in the rocket fire. Media reports said four Hezbollah members were detained.
But the group, including Kajak, was released later that evening according to reports. Videos posted on social media showed the terror group member greeted with celebrations at his home.
— Joe Truzman (@JoeTruzman) August 6, 2021
Hezbollah claimed in a statement that the rockets were fired from remote areas, adding that the fighters were stopped in Chouya on their way back.
Nineteen rockets were fired at the Golan Heights and Galilee Panhandle from Lebanon on Friday morning, the Israel Defense Forces and Hezbollah both said.
The IDF said 10 projectiles were intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defense system and six landed in open around Mount Dov. Another three rockets failed to clear the border and landed in Lebanese territory, according to the military.
It was Hezbollah’s heaviest barrage since the 2006 Second Lebanon War. The group said it came in response to recent Israeli airstrikes in Lebanon. “The Islamic Resistance shelled open areas near the Shebaa Farms with dozens of 122mm rockets,” it said in a statement carried in Arabic-language media.
Possible Hezbollah operatives dragged from their vehicles by local armed Druze villagers pic.twitter.com/PJJk6KYfEE
— ELINT News (@ELINTNews) August 6, 2021
Rocket fire from Lebanon has been exceedingly rare in the 15 years since the 2006 Second Lebanon War Israel fought against Hezbollah, though it has occurred sporadically.
Recent months, however, have seen a slight uptick, with 10 launches aimed at Israel during May’s 11-day war in Gaza, as well as last month, leading to fears among some that the phenomenon could become more common, as has happened on the Gaza border.
However, until Friday’s barrage, recent launches had been attributed to small armed Palestinian groups rather than Hezbollah.