IDF sends artillery to northern border as tensions with Hezbollah rise

Lebanese media reports Israeli flare caused fire at UNIFIL base, no injuries; army remains on high alert in anticipation of retaliation from terror group

An IDF artillery piece being transferred to the Lebanon border on August 31, 2019. (Screen capture/Twitter)
An IDF artillery piece being transferred to the Lebanon border on August 31, 2019. (Screen capture/Twitter)

The Israel Defense Forces sent artillery and other heavy equipment to the Lebanese border on Saturday, bolstering forces there as it remained on high alert in anticipation of a possible attack from Hezbollah.

There was no comment from the IDF, but TV news showed a convoy of transports hauling self-propelled howitzers toward the border.

Israel has been on high alert over fears of a reprisal attack from Hezbollah or another Iranian proxy following Israeli airstrikes against Iran-linked targets in Syria, and an armed drone attack on Hezbollah’s south Beirut stronghold, which has been blamed on Israel.

The IDF believes Hezbollah intends to attack Israeli soldiers or a military installation on the border, and not civilians.

Also Saturday, Lebanon’s National News Agency reported that a flare launched by Israel operating along the border had fallen in a UNIFIL base inside Lebanon, causing a fire to break out. There were no injuries.

The Lebanese news agency also reported that several explosions were heard along the border and that an additional fire had broken out the Israeli side of the border near Mount Dov. Responding to a query on the matter, the army said that the fire had been started by IDF activity in the area and that the blaze had been contained.

The army gave no details on what troops were up to.

On Friday, Army Chief of Staff Aviv Kohavi toured the border a day after the army canceled leave for combat soldiers in the area and the military’s commander in the north warned Israel would offer a “harsh” response to any Hezbollah attack.

Kohavi met with Northern Command chief Maj. Gen. Amir Baram and other military officials in the area for a situational assessment, the IDF said in a statement.

The freeze on soldiers’ leave in the north will be in effect until further notice, the army said.

IDF vehicles patrol near the Lebanon border, August 27, 2019. (David Cohen/Flash90)

The Lebanese frontier was especially tense Thursday, following an incident the night before where Lebanese troops fired on Israeli drones, claiming they had entered the country’s airspace.

Also on Friday, residents of the northern village of Ghajar, on Israel’s border with Lebanon, complained that the IDF had closed the main road to the village.

They said the road had been closed since Thursday afternoon and that they had been requested to use an alternative route for IDF vehicles that was not suitable for civilian vehicles, according to a report from the Ynet news site.

Village residents said they had been told to stay inside their homes, except in emergency situations.

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