Rocket Alarms Sound in Upper Galilee; Israel On Alert

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Israeli Tank Patrolling Syrian Border A tank from the IDF Armored Corpse on patrol in the Golan Heights along the border with Syria. File Photo to by Andrew McIntire/TPS on July 16, 2015

Rocket Alarms Sound in Upper Galilee; Israel On Alert for Hezbollah Response to Kuntar Killing

Written by Jonathan Benedek/TPS on December 20, 2015

Alarms sounded throughout the city of Nahariya and several Israeli towns located near the Lebanon border on Sunday night, December 20.  The IDF spokesperson reported that there were three rockets fired.

Following the killing of Samir Kuntar early Sunday morning, Israel has been on alert for a potential response from Hezbollah, the Lebanon-based terror organization.

“The IDF and Israel definitely need to be prepared for the possibility of retaliation by Hezbollah,” MK Eyal Ben-Reuven of the Zionist Camp party in an interview with TPS earlier on Sunday. Ben-Reuven previously served the IDF for 35 years and was the Deputy Chief of the Northern Command during the Second Lebanon War.

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“I suggest taking the Hezbollah threat seriously. Their announcement directly blaming the Israeli government shows that they are not going to hide this [killing], like they have done in the past.”

However, MK Ben-Reuven also told TPS that he does not foresee any drastic or major response coming from Hezbollah. “My estimation is that they will not do something that can make the situation deteriorate into total chaos,” MK Ben-Reuven claimed. “They are preoccupied with other fronts such as Syria.”

Hezbollah has used a significant number of its resources and manpower in the Syrian civil war, in an attempt to help Syrian President Bashar al-Assad hold onto power. Reportedly, one third of Hezbollah’s fighters have been killed in the Syrian civil war.

Indeed, retired Lebanese General Hisham Jaber told Daily News Egypt today that in regard to the reaction of Hezbollah, he was sure that there would be a response,  but he “excluded the suggestion that Hezbollah would violate UN resolution number 1701 that called for a ceasefire between Hezbollah and Israel in 2006.”

“They might respond with what is called a ‘threshold operation’, for example an explosive device on the border fence, or firing an anti tank missile, or firing a rocket at an Israeli target,” suggested MK Ben-Reuven. “Such an operation wouldn’t draw a severe response from the IDF which would again force them to retaliate, causing the situation to snowball.

Earlier this year, Hezbollah fired an anti-tank missile killing two Israeli soldiers in Har Dov near the Lebanese border, in retaliation for an alleged Israeli strike about a week earlier that killed several members of both the Iranian Revolutionary Guard  and Hezbollah.

Meanwhile, Israeli residents living on the Lebanese border continued to function regularly on Sunday in the face of potential terror attacks and reprisals. “Currently there are no special preparations and there have not been any new instructions received from security officials,” said Giora Zaltz, Head of the Upper Galilee Municipality to TPS.

“Children went to kindergartens and schools and their parents went to work this morning,” continued Zaltz.

“The public here practices for (potential) emergency situations, and if we will be required to transition from a routine situation to an emergency situation due to an attack on Israel, we will do so according to familiar drills to us from the past. We trust the army.”

The killing of Kuntar seems to have created a significant dent in the Hezbollah terrorist organization. “Since he was released in 2008 he hasn’t stopped operating for one moment, and when Hezbollah started operating in Syria [during the Syrian civil war] he began operating from Syria, establishing a foundation for the organization,” MK Ben-Reuven explained to TPS.

“If you add the horrific attack for which he served many years in prison, and all his other operations as part of Hezbollah in recent years, this answers the question of why now, he deserved to die,” MK Ben-Reuven said. “He’s a terrorist operating for Hezbollah and he’s an enemy of Israel, an active enemy that produces terror.”

MK Ben-Reuven also told TPS that the killing of Samir Kuntar should serve as a message for other terrorists.

“The meaning of the operation is that no terrorist is immune, and everyone should be aware of this,” MK stressed Ben-Reuven. “Even if he has served in Israeli prison, he returned to terror and was eventually targeted.”

“Whether it was Israel or not who killed Kuntar, terrorists need to be aware and understand this.”

Anav Silverman contributed to this report. 

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