Tensions on the northern border escalated this week when Hezbollah launched a missile into Israel that narrowly missed a military vehicle on Sunday in the town of Avivim.
The Israeli soldiers were not injured, but the attacks sent residents of the north into lockdown, just as thousands of children were returning to school for the first time after summer vacation. Israel faked an evacuation of wounded soldiers with fake blood and a helicopter lifting the allegedly injured soldiers to a Haifa hospital.
Israel decided not to respond militarily. Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah claimed that Israelis were killed and he called the attack “a message” to Israel.
“We no longer have red lines. This is the start of a new phase,” he said. “Remember this date.”
The IDF’s Northern Command had been on high alert since last week after a drone attack in Beirut that Hezbollah blamed on Israel. Israel has not claimed any role in the Beirut attack. Israel has, however, stepped up attacks on targets in recent weeks including weapons factories and transports in Syria, Lebanon and Iraq. Some of these are precariously close to the Israeli border.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said last week that Israel has identified a precision missile-production program in southern Lebanon being built by Iran and Hezbollah – and he vowed to destroy it.
“We are determined to eliminate this dangerous project,” he said. “The aim of the publication today is to convey a message that we will not sit by and allow our enemies to arm themselves with deadly weapons directed at us.”
Nasrallah said there was no production of precision missiles taking place in Lebanon.
“We do not have precision missile factories. This is a lie and a pretext that Netanyahu is adopting to carry out aggression,” Nasrallah said.
Hezbollah is believed to have more than 150,000 missiles stockpiled right next to Israel. Most of them are not precision-guided, but Israel fears that a barrage of precision-guided missiles could be used to attack sensitive targets and overwhelm its response capability.