BEIRUT: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Tuesday that Israel was doing all that was "necessary" to ensure its security a day after Israeli warplanes struck a suspected Hezbollah target on the Lebanese-Syrian border.
"We are doing everything that is necessary in order to defend the security of Israel," Netanyahu was quoted saying by Agence France-Presse.
The warplanes launched four rockets on the border area of Janta in east Lebanon targeting a shipment of “qualitative” weapons, a security source told The Daily Star Monday.
“Two Israeli raids hit a Hezbollah target on the border of Lebanon and Syria,” near the village of Nabi Sheet, the source said, adding that a Hezbollah training site is located in the area. Janta is also a well-known route for smuggling between the two countries, the source said.
Hezbollah did not comment officially on the raid, but its affiliated television station Al Manar downplayed the report, while the pro-Hezbollah daily Al Akhbar reported that the raid took place on the Syrian side of the border, adding that the "nature of the target was unclear."
President Michel Sleiman discussed with Army Chief of Staff Maj. Walid Salman, “the results of the Israeli aerial attack against the country and the necessary procedures to confront such attacks,” a statement from Sleiman’s office said.
The Army did not comment on the attack directly, with the military releasing a statement Tuesday confirming only that four Israeli warplanes and an Israeli reconnaissance jet violated Lebanon’s airspace the day before.
“At 21:50 p.m. Monday, four warplanes for the Israeli enemy violated Lebanese airspace from above Shekka [in north Lebanon] all the way to the regions of Baalbek and Hermel,” the statement said.
“[The planes] performed circular flights over different Lebanese regions and then left Lebanon’s airspace at 22:25 p.m. over the village of Naqoura.”
“At around 11:15 p.m., an Israeli reconnaissance airplane violated the Lebanese airspace above Naqoura and preformed circular flights above the areas of Riaq, Baalbek, Hermel, Beirut and its suburbs and then left above Alma Shaeb at 12:15 a.m.”
Meanwhile, Israeli troops patrolled the border with Lebanon Tuesday morning, sweeping area between the town Abbasiyeh all the way to the occupied Kfarshouba hills.
A Internal Security Forces report obtained by The Daily Star said that two explosions were heard near the border town of Nabi Sheet but that "their source and type were not identified."
“No casualties were reported,” the police report said.
Nabi Sheet is one of several areas in Lebanon associated with Hezbollah.
Residents told AFP they saw flares light up the sky ahead of the raids, which shook their houses.
People in neighbouring areas said they heard planes flying low and that the target appeared to be a Hezbollah position in the mountains near the town.
Meanwhile, Israel's media implied the Jewish state's air force was behind the strikes, AFP reported.
Israel's top-selling daily Yediot Aharonot ran the front page headline, "Foreign reports: Israeli strike in Lebanon", while referring to strikes Israel implicitly admitted carrying out against Hezbollah in Syria last year.
Other media pointed to weekend remarks by Israeli army chief Lieutenant General Benny Gantz who warned against arms transfer from Syria to Hezbollah in Lebanon.
"We are monitoring closely the transfer of all types of weapons to all fronts," Gantz was quoted as saying.
"Sometimes, in case of necessity, something can happen," he said.—with Agencies