Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned that Israel could retaliate harshly after a Hezbollah attack on an IDF convoy on the Lebanon border Wednesday morning killed two soldiers and injured seven others.
Netanyahu said an Israeli response could resemble Israel’s pummeling of the Gaza Strip over the summer, when the Palestinian enclave was hit with thousands of mortar rounds and airstrikes over 50 days, killing over 2,000 people.
“To those who are challenging us in the north, I suggest you look at what happened in the Gaza Strip,” Netanyahu said.
Netanyahu made his comments during a cornerstone laying ceremony for new apartments in the southern city of Sderot, which was hit with hundreds of rockets fired by Hamas-led fighters in the Strip during the conflict.
“The IDF is prepared to act on all fronts,” Netanyahu said.
The prime minister blamed Iran for the attacks, which apparently came in response to an alleged Israeli airstrike on Hezbollah and Iranian operatives in Syria on January 18, an official in the Prime Minister’s Office said.
Netanyahu fingered Tehran for establishing terrorist infrastructures in Syria, Lebanon, Gaza, Iraq and Yemen, the official said.
Israel responded to Wednesday’s attack with artillery strikes on Hezbollah strongholds in southern Lebanon. Two Lebanese officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Israel targeted the border villages of Majidiyeh, Abbasiyeh and Kfar Chouba with at least 50 shells.
One United Nations peacekeeper was reported killed in the strike.
During a meeting with his Chinese counterpart in Beijing, Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman called for a “harsh and disproportionate” Israeli response to the attacks. Liberman said that both the US and China would respond in such a way, and expressed hope that the international community would support Israel’s fight against terrorism.
Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon blamed Syrian President Bashar Assad for the attacks, and vowed that Israel “will exact a heavy price from any government or organization that violates our borders.”
“We have no intention of ignoring or abiding terrorist attacks on our soldiers and citizens,” Ya’alon said Wednesday.
Former Finance Minister Yair Lapid compared the Hezbollah strike to recent terror attacks in France.
“We will respond in an uncompromising way to this kind of terror attack and Hezbollah should know that no one is immune from our response,” he said in a statement.
The attack came after repeated threats by the militant group, which said it would retaliate against Israel for the airstrike.
In a statement, Hezbollah said the attack was a “first announcement,” alluding to the possibility of further escalation along the border.
Jonathan Beck contributed to this report.