No #19

The Financial Daily - - CONTINUATIONS -

mil­i­tary con­voy along the bor­der with Le­banon, the army said in a state­ment. "Ear­lier today an anti-tank mis­sile hit a (mil­i­tary) ve­hi­cle… killing two sol­diers and wound­ing an ad­di­tional seven," it said. Lo­cal me­dia re­ported that none of the in­jured were in a life-threat­en­ing con­di­tion.

The army said an anti-tank mis­sile hit a mil­i­tary ve­hi­cle in the Is­raeli-oc­cu­pied She­baa Farms area on the bor­der with Le­banon and close to the cease­fire line with Syria.

Mor­tar shells also struck an­other mil­i­tary po­si­tion on nearby Mount Her­mon, the army said, with­out say­ing whether any­one was in­jured. Hezbol­lah quickly claimed re­spon­si­bil­ity for the at­tack, say­ing it had "tar­geted an Is­raeli mil­i­tary con­voy in the She­baa Farms com­posed of sev­eral ve­hi­cles which was trans­port­ing sev­eral Zion­ist sol­diers and of­fi­cers."

"There were sev­eral ca­su­al­ties in the en­emy's ranks," Hezbol­lah said in a state­ment broad­cast on the group's Al-Ma­nar tele­vi­sion chan­nel. Al-Ma­nar re­ported that Hezbol­lah - which said the at­tack was car­ried out by its "Quneitra mar­tyrs" in ref­er­ence to a deadly Is­raeli air strike on the nearby Golan - tar­geted nine Is­raeli mil­i­tary ve­hi­cles and had killed "a large num­ber" of troops.

Shortly af­ter the hit on the con­voy, Is­raeli Prime Min­is­ter Ben­jamin Ne­tanyahu warned that the Jewish state would re­spond to any at­tack. "The IDF (army) is ready to act with force on any front," Ne­tanyahu said. Is­rael's chief of staff Lieu­tenant Gen­eral Benny Gantz con­vened an emer­gency ses­sion of his top brass, the army said. Le­banese se­cu­rity sources told AFP that Is­raeli tanks be­gan shelling ar­eas of south­east­ern Le­banon shortly af­ter the at­tack on the con­voy.

Two sources told AFP that more than a dozen shells had been fired on Le­banese bor­der vil­lages and that Is­raeli war­planes were fly­ing over the area. There was no im­me­di­ate in­for­ma­tion on ca­su­al­ties. "At least 15 shells have been fired against five vil­lages in the south," one se­cu­rity source said, adding that Ma­jidiyeh vil­lage was hard­est hit. An­other se­cu­rity source said the Is­raeli army was fir­ing a shell into the area about ev­ery two min­utes, and was us­ing ar­tillery as well as tanks.

The Le­banese army is de­ployed in all five vil­lages that were shelled, but it was not im­me­di­ately clear whether Hezbol­lah had a pres­ence there. Im­ages broad­cast from the scene on Is­raeli tele­vi­sion showed large plumes of white smoke bil­low­ing across the area. Po­lice sealed off sev­eral roads close to the bor­der in north­ern Is­rael. The fresh ex­changes came af­ter the Is­raeli air strike on the Syr­ian sec­tor of the Golan Heights killed six Hezbol­lah fight­ers and an Ira­nian gen­eral on Jan­uary 18.

The day be­fore the raid, Hezbol­lah leader Has­san Nas­ral­lah threat­ened to re­tal­i­ate against Is­rael for its re­peated strikes on tar­gets in Syria and boasted the move­ment was stronger than ever. Is­rael oc­cu­pied parts of Le­banon for 22 years un­til 2000 and the two coun­tries are still tech­ni­cally at war.

In 2006, Is­rael fought a bloody war against Hezbol­lah that killed more than 1,200 peo­ple in Le­banon, mostly civil­ians, and some 160 Is­raelis, mostly sol­diers.-Agen­cies

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