BEIRUT: Hezbollah threatened Israel with retaliatory action Wednesday, saying it would choose the perfect time to respond to an Israeli airstrike that targeted the party earlier this week in the Bekaa Valley, raising cross-border tensions.
“This Israeli aggression will not stand without a response from the resistance, and the resistance will choose the appropriate time, place and method of response,” it added.
In response, the Israeli army’s northern command “decided Wednesday evening to increase the state of alert for forces stationed along the border with Lebanon, fearing of retaliatory fire,” according to the Yediot Aharonot newspaper.
In the statement, Hezbollah confirmed that Israeli warplanes bombarded a Hezbollah area on the Lebanese-Syrian border near the Janta region Monday evening.
The area is not open to the public, so it is uncertain exactly what was targeted, but Hezbollah dismissed media reports that the strike targeted one of its missile or artillery bases, and denied that it had caused any casualties.
“Thank God, no one was martyred or wounded as a result of this aggression and the location has incurred some material damage only,” the statement added.
But security sources told The Daily Star Tuesday the strike hit two trucks transporting missiles and a missile launcher from Syria into Lebanon, killing four Hezbollah members.
The party said the incident was an attack on not just itself, but also on Lebanon and its sovereignty, adding that the strike affirmed the aggressive nature of Israel and required a frank and clear response from all groups.
In Damascus, Alaeddin Boroujerdi, who chairs Iran’s parliament committee on foreign policy and national security, echoed Hezbollah’s threat.
“I think the resistance [Hezbollah] knows its lesson well and how it should behave,” Boroujerdi told reporters. “There is no doubt whatsoever ... that it was the Zionist entity that started in this game, and Hezbollah maintains the right to respond ... and there is no doubt that the Zionist entity’s losses will multiply.”
Israel did not directly claim responsibility for the strike, although Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Tuesday that the government was doing “everything necessary” to protect the country.
A report published Wednesday in the Israeli daily Haaretz said defense officials were expecting Hezbollah to target senior Israeli figures in retaliation for Monday’s attack. Citing Israeli sources, the report said Hezbollah was not expected to react immediately and that local officials were preparing accordingly.
President Michel Sleiman has asked Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil to gather all information available on the attack to file a complaint with the U.N. Security Council, as the airstrike violates Resolution 1701.
U.N. Special Coordinator for Lebanon Derek Plumbly said after meeting Bassil that he had no “direct information” on whether the Israeli strike hit Lebanese territories or whether it violated U.N. resolutions, and called on all sides to try to avoid escalating the situation. “I would say that it is very important for the U.N., seeing the press reports, to encourage all concerned to avoid anything which could lead to an escalation or disturb the calm which currently prevails as a result of Resolution 1701. That’s all I can say on that subject.”