IDF: Troops kill three-man terror cell infiltrating from Lebanon; 5 soldiers hurt

Incident at Mount Dov comes amid repeated attacks led by Hezbollah on northern Israel

Emanuel (Mannie) Fabian is The Times of Israel's military correspondent

Weapons found on the bodies of gunmen who infiltrated into Israeli territory from Lebanon early January 14, 2024. (Israel Defense Forces)
Weapons found on the bodies of gunmen who infiltrated into Israeli territory from Lebanon early January 14, 2024. (Israel Defense Forces)

Three gunmen who infiltrated into Israeli territory from Lebanon before dawn on Sunday were killed by Israeli troops, the military said. Medical officials said five soldiers were wounded in the incident.

In a statement, the Israel Defense Forces said the terror cell was spotted by troops carrying out a patrol in the contested Mount Dov region on the border.

The gunmen were thought to have managed to cross the border initially undetected due to heavy fog covering the mountain. There is no border fence in the Mount Dov area, also known as Shebaa Farms — an area claimed by Lebanon — which houses several military positions and no towns.

The soldiers heard gunfire near them during their patrol and engaged the suspects.

An exchange of fire took place, during which artillery and mortars were also launched to assist the Israeli troops, the IDF said, adding that all three gunmen were killed.

Rambam Hospital in Haifa said five soldiers were admitted to the medical center following the gun battle.

It said two of the soldiers were listed in good-to-moderate condition, and three were lightly hurt.

An Israeli mobile artillery unit fires a shell from northern Israel towards Lebanon, January 11, 2024. (AP Photo/Leo Correa)

There was no immediate claim of responsibility, though the incident comes amid repeated attacks by Lebanon’s Hezbollah and allied Palestinian terror groups on the border in recent months.

On Saturday, the IDF said it carried out a wave of airstrikes on Hezbollah positions in southern Lebanon in response to attacks on the border.

The sites struck by fighter jets in Meiss Ej Jabal and Yarine included various infrastructure used by the terror group, according to the IDF.

Several projectiles were fired by Hezbollah at northern Israel on Saturday, including one missile that hit a home in the border community of Shtula.

On Friday night, the IDF said, it struck three terror cells in southern Lebanon, which were preparing to carry out attacks on northern Israel.

An attack helicopter targeted two cells in southern Lebanon’s Marwahin, and special forces and artillery struck an anti-tank missile squad in Yaroun, the IDF said.

Since October 8, Hezbollah-led forces have attacked Israeli communities and military posts along the border on a near-daily basis, with the group saying it is doing so to support Gaza amid Israel’s war with the Hamas terror group there.

So far, the skirmishes on the border have resulted in four civilian deaths on the Israeli side, as well as the deaths of nine IDF soldiers. There have also been several attacks from Syria, without any injuries.

Hezbollah has named 161 members who have been killed by Israel during the ongoing skirmishes, mostly in Lebanon but some also in Syria. In Lebanon, another 19 operatives from other terror groups — including Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad — along with a Lebanese soldier and at least 19 civilians, three of whom were journalists, have been killed.

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