TV: Israel was ready to destroy Hezbollah missile program if soldiers were hit
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TV: Israel was ready to destroy Hezbollah missile program if soldiers were hit

Air force jets were airborne over the Mediterranean in preparation for massive retaliation, but missile attack Sunday narrowly missed its targets

F-35 fighter jets from Israel, the United States, and the United Kingdom take part in an aerial exercise over the Mediterranean Sea, on June 25, 2019. (Israel Defense Forces)
F-35 fighter jets from Israel, the United States, and the United Kingdom take part in an aerial exercise over the Mediterranean Sea, on June 25, 2019. (Israel Defense Forces)

Israel was ready to launch a massive retaliation against Hezbollah’s precision missile system in Lebanon, and only opted against carrying out that plan because no Israeli soldiers were hurt in a Sunday cross-border attack by the terror group, according to a report Monday evening.

“The fact that [Hezbollah leader Hassan] Nasrallah missed and didn’t kill any Israelis saved Hezbollah from the destruction of its precision missile program,” an Israel Defense Forces source was quoted as saying by Channel 12 news. “The planes were already in the air.”

According to the report, air force jets were flying over the Mediterranean Sea armed with dozens of tons of explosives in preparation for a counter-strike.

The source was quoted as saying the warplanes were ready to bomb many targets linked to Hezbollah’s missile production, and were waiting for a green light from Jerusalem.

The report came shortly after a Hezbollah-affiliated TV network published footage it said depicted the terror group’s missile strike on an Israeli military vehicle the day before, which did not cause casualties and led to a relatively limited Israeli retaliation. The footage showed two anti-tank missiles apparently narrowly missing an IDF vehicle on the road between Moshav Avivim and Kibbutz Yir’on near the northern border.

The footage from Al-Manar TV shows a Hezbollah fighter launching a Kornet guided missile at what appears to be a moving Israeli armored personnel carrier patrolling along the border fence. An additional launch at the APC is seen from further away. While the Hezbollah-affiliated network stated that the two strikes destroyed the APC, the footage does not show that the military vehicle sustained a direct hit; it shows billows of smoke surrounding it as the missiles land.

The APC itself was not in fact hit by either projectile, according to findings from an IDF analysis published earlier Monday. Rather, a piece of shrapnel from the explosion of one of the projectiles hit a tire, forcing the vehicle to stop on the side of the road, the military said.

“The mannequins that were placed in the Israeli military vehicles were not of use in misleading the resistance in choosing the target of its response,” Al-Manar reported, referencing a psychological war tactic that Lebanese media caught the IDF employing last week, when the military parked a jeep along the northern border with uniformed dummies inside.

A man fixes a Hezbollah flag at the ‘Garden of Iran’ Park in the Lebanese village of Maroun al-Ras on September 1, 2019, as fires blaze on the Lebanese side along the border following an exchange of fire with Israel. (Mahmoud Zayyat/AFP)

The IDF said that no Israelis were injured in Sunday’s attack, but Hezbollah has maintained that its strike killed and injured Israeli soldiers.

Pictures and videos showing injured soldiers being evacuated via helicopter from the scene had been a ploy meant to trick Hezbollah into thinking it had caused casualties, Israeli sources said.

Jacob Magid and Adam Rasgon contributed to this report.

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