UNIFIL peacekeepers gesture to photographers as they patrol the border in Kfar Kila, Monday, Jan. 19, 2015. (The Daily Star/Mohammed Zaatari)
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Coming just days after Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah warned Israel of his party's military strength, the Israeli airstrike Sunday against a convoy of senior Hezbollah and Iranian officers in the Golan Heights was unusually provocative.The brazenness of the airstrike, in which Hezbollah field commander Mohammad Issa and Jihad Mughniyeh, the son of slain military leader Imad Mughniyeh, were killed along with four other Hezbollah cadres, an Iranian Revolutionary Guard general and reportedly several other Iranians, leaves Hezbollah little choice but to mount a retaliation. Issa and Mohammad Ali Allahdadi were not on the way to plant bombs beside the fence or launch Grad rockets at Israeli settlements. They were senior commanders, which makes this airstrike less of a pre-emptive raid to prevent an attack and more like a carefully planned targeted assassination in the full knowledge that it would likely provoke a retaliation from Hezbollah. For such an act of retaliation this time around to carry weight commensurate with the loss of the senior cadres, Hezbollah cannot settle for wounding Israeli soldiers (as in the previous reprisals) but will have to inflict fatalities.
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