Israel bombarded two Hezbollah positions on the Lebanon-Syria border on Monday, killing at least three people and wounding 10, Lebanese security sources and a Syrian NGO said. But the pro-Iranian Al-Mayadeen television station in Lebanon reported that there were no casualties in the air raids.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu dodged a question about the attack. In response to a question at a news conference Tuesday in Jerusalem with visiting German Chancellor Angela Merkel, about whether Israel was responsible for the attack, Netanyahu would only say: "We are doing everything that is necessary in order to defend the security of Israel."
The London-based monitoring group, Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said the target was a Hezbollah "missile base" in eastern Lebanon's Bekaa Valley. But other reports said the target was a convoy of sophisticated missiles headed for Lebanon and was bombed on Syrian territory near the Lebanese border.
The Hezbollah television station Al-Manar said there had been "no raid on Lebanese territory," perhaps indicating that the raid was on Syrian territory. It did report the "strong presence of enemy planes over the area north of Bekaa" in eastern Lebanon.
The air strikes killed a number of Hezbollah members, sources told the Al Arabiya news site. Another web site reported that one of those killed by a Hezbollah training officer named Hajji Hassan Mansour.
Nabi Chit, where the attacks took place, is a bastion of Hezbollah. The Shiite group has a suspected weapons store and training camp there.
In the past year, Israel is said to have attacked six missile-laden convoys, as well as missile storage sites, both in Syria and Lebanon, in a bid to prevent Syria from delivering anti-aircraft and other types of missiles to Hezbollah. The missiles are by way of Syrian payment for Hezbollah's support of President Bashar Assad's regime, which has helped him turn the tide against the rebels seeking to unseat him.
Israeli media reported Tuesday that military chief of staff, Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz, hinted at Israel's intentions when he said Sunday that the ongoing transfer of weapons from Syria to Lebanon was "not a good thing" and added that things "could happen" from time to time, a possible reference to Israeli military action to prevent such transfers. Gantz, on a tour of the Golan Heights along the Israeli-Syrian border, also said "a storm is brewing underneath the seeming quiet, night and day and on every front. There is no front where Iran is not involved, handing out torches to pyromaniacs, with munitions and rockets." Iran is a staunch supporter of the Assad regime, as well as of Hezbollah.
Israel did not immediately confirm or deny responsibility for the raids. But a military source told Reuters that there had been "unusual Israeli activity in the north."
Witnesses told Lebanese media they heard repeated, strong explosions and saw flames at the target sites, indicating that munitions may have exploded there.
Lebanon's National News Agency said that there were also “intensive Israeli flights at very low altitude over the eastern and western mountains chains of Lebanon.”
The independent Lebanese news channel MTV described the air strikes as “mock raids” over Brital, Hor Ti’la, al-Nabi Shayth, al-Khidhar, and Ali al-Nahri; villages located in the Bekaa valley bordering Syria.
Residents of Nabi Chit, on the Lebanese side of the border, told AFP they saw flare bombs light up the sky ahead of the raids, which shook their houses.