US ‘concerned’ by northern tensions, backs Jerusalem’s right to self-defense

State Department and White House special envoy issue statements blaming Iran-backed Hezbollah for latest escalation

Smoke rises near the community of Avivim following an anti-tank missile attack from Lebanon on September 1, 2019. (Courtesy)
Smoke rises near the community of Avivim following an anti-tank missile attack from Lebanon on September 1, 2019. (Courtesy)

The United States voiced concern Sunday after Israel and Hezbollah exchanged fire along the Lebanese border, slamming the “destabilizing role” of Iranian proxies in the Middle East.

“We are aware of these reports and are concerned about the escalating tensions along the border,” said a State Department official.

“The United States fully supports Israel’s right to self defense,” the official said, warning that “Hezbollah should refrain from hostile actions which threaten Lebanon’s security, stability and sovereignty.”

“This is another example of the destabilizing role of Iranian proxies in undermining peace and security in the region,” the official said.

Hezbollah fired several anti-tank missiles from Lebanon at Israeli territory. No Israelis were injured by projectiles, which struck a military vehicle and army base outside a town in northern Israel. In response, the IDF said it fired some 100 shells at Hezbollah targets in Lebanon.

Joining the State Department in backing Israel was US special envoy Jason Greenblatt, who tweeted that Iran and its proxies “undermine chances for peace & threaten a better future for Palestinians. The US stands with Israel and fully supports its right to defend itself against all attacks.”

This picture taken on September 1, 2019 from a location near the northern Israeli town of Avivim, close to the border with Lebanon, shows fires and smoke rising after Lebanon’s Shiite Hezbollah terror movement fired anti-tank missiles into northern Israel (Jalaa MAREY / AFP)

Later Sunday evening, it was revealed that the IDF had conducted a staged evacuation of “wounded” soldiers from the armored personnel carrier struck by the Hezbollah anti-tank missile.

The army dispatched a helicopter to the scene and two bleeding and bandaged soldiers were filmed being evacuated and later being rushed into Haifa’s Rambam Medical Center.

Lebanese media subsequently began reporting of a successful operation by the Hezbollah terror group, which struck a military target and managed to wound soldiers. Some reports said that the Israeli troops had been killed.

However, the hospital released a statement saying the soldiers had been released shortly after their arrival without receiving any medical care.

The IDF declined to comment further on the operation.

The goal of the operation appeared to have been to give the Lebanese terror group the feeling that they had carried out a sufficient retaliatory attack for a pair of Israeli strikes on Hezbollah and Iranian targets late last month.

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