The Levant News Exclusive – An anti-tank missile struck an Israeli military vehicle in the Shebaa Farms, the Lebanese area occupied by Israel, on Wednesday morning, as mortar shells were fired at nearby areas. Israeli media said that a number of Israeli troops were wounded in the attack. Hezbollah claimed responsibility for this attack.
Al-Mayadeen TV quoted special sources saying that the attack has killed about 15 Israeli soldiers and wounded others including a high-ranking commander.
The Israeli army responded to the attacks with fire. Lebanese media quoted security officials as saying that Israel has fired at least 25 artillery shells into Lebanon. The officials said the shelling targeted the border villages of Majidiyeh, Abbasiyeh and Kfar Chouba near the Shebaa Farms area, according to Lebanese media.
The attacks took place as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was in the southern city of Sderot, laying the cornerstone for a new neighborhood. “At these moments, the Iraeli army is responding to the events in the north. Look what happened here. Not far from the city of Sderot, in Gaza, Hamas was hit by the strongest blow it ever received last summer… Security comes before all else. Security is the foundation for everything.”
Netanyahu cut short his visit to Sderot and was headed to the Defense Ministry headquarters in Tel Aviv for consultations. Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon convened a security briefing in the wake of the attacks.
Residents in the nearby city of Metuala and the surrounding kibbutzim were instructed to remain indoors. The airports in Rosh Pina and Haifa suspended operations amid the ongoing fire.
The incident occured shortly after it emerged that Israeli troops were digging in the same area search for possible Hezbollah tunnels. There was no apparent connection between the two incidents.
Hours earlier, the IDF launched a strike on Syrian Army artillery posts in retaliation for the four rockets fired Tuesday at Israeli territory, two of which exploded in the Golan Heights. Ya’alon said that areas targeted by the IDF in Syria were under control of President Bashar Assad’s regime.
Israeli artillery scored direct hits on Syrian targets in the Quneitra province, according to a statement released by the Israeli army’s spokesperson: “The Israeli army holds the Syrian government accountable for all attacks emanating from its land, and will operate by any means necessary to defend Israeli civilians. Such blatant breaches of Israeli sovereignty will not be tolerated,” the army statement read.
A rocket alert siren sounded in the Golan Heights before the Israeli strike, though the Israeli army said no rockets landed in Israeli occupied territory.
Groups in the Syrian opposition said Wednesday morning that the overnight Israeli strikes targeted two bases belonging to the Syrian military in the Quneitra region, and one near the Damascus international airport.
Lebanese sources say at least 30 shells were fired into Lebanon after the attack.
The Israeli army chief of staff is holding a briefing session with the military commanders in attendance.
According to the Israeli sources airports in Rosh Pina and Haifa have been closed due to the Israeli air force operations.
The Lebanese resistance movement of Hezbollah has claimed responsibility for the attack saying it comes in response to the recent killing of its fighters by Israel.
The Lebanese Al-Manar TV says nine Israeli vehicles were damaged in the attack. 11:02 GMT
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