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In the Golan Heights region bordering Israel and Syria, a clash between Hezbollah and the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) broke out on Wednesday. This exchange of violence is the worst since a month-long war between the two groups occurred in 2006. The attack killed two Israeli soldiers and one United Nations observer, and injured seven others.
The bombing on Wednesday was thought to be a retaliatory maneuver by Hezbollah in response to an Israeli bombing on Jan. 19. An Iranian general named Mohammad Ali Allahdadi was visiting Quneitra, Syria, located just below the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, when IDF attacked via helicopter, killing him and six Hezbollah troops, according to Iran’s Fars news source.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu explained Wednesday that he is ready to defend the northern border with force if need be. He said that if the Syrians are going to allow these terrorists to occupy their land, they need to be prepared for what that might entail. Netanyahu warned that those who wish to challenge his northern borders need only look at the example of Sderot in the Gaza to see how far he is willing to go.
In Sderot, Hamas challenged IDF and they took the hardest hit since their group was formed. Essentially, the PM wanted to relay the message that they are prepared to respond on all fronts with as much force as needed.
Netanyahu continued by warning that the clash between Israeli forces and Hezbollah is indicative of the Shiite group’s explosive temperament and should serve as a reason not to allow Iran, who backs Hezbollah, to develop nuclear weapons. He said that there is no reason to provide one of the most dangerous terrorist groups on the planet with the most dangerous weapon available on the planet. Iran continues to assert that they only pursue nuclear energy for peaceful uses.
The U.N. observer killed was Spanish, and the president of Spain sent out his condolences via Twitter. He died in the village of Ghajar, which is situated along the Lebanon-Israeli lines. The United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon has said that they are investigating the circumstances of this “tragic incident.”
The retaliatory bombing from across the Syrian border was not unforeseen, because the way these forces interact is not completely unscripted. Not long after the Jan. 18 attacks, a Hezbollah official commented that their leadership would not allow the killing of a general to go without retribution. The official warned that their leadership would choose when, where and how they would return fire. There was some speculation as to whether the action would come in the form of a bomb, an exchange of gunfire, or as something less intimidating like the crossing of the border with a drone. The attack that killed two and injured six was their response.
This most recent clash between Hezbollah and Israeli forces has been called a “tit-for-tat” war, but as the number of casualties increase, the significance of the war also increases. These “skirmishes” often do not end in bloodshed, which is why they seem to be tolerated by so many. For the time being, it seems that both sides have retained their honor through their violent lashing-out. Only time will tell if one side will find a reason to attack the other in coming weeks.
By Joel Wickwire