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IDF chief says army ‘ready’ as north braces for Hezbollah response


Farmers in Metulla warned to stay away from border; army units set to go on leave ordered to stay put


Israeli soldiers of the Golani Brigade training in the Israeli-controlled Golan Heights, near the Israel-Syria border, January 19, 2015. (photo credit: AP/Ariel Schalit)

Israel’s army went on high alert along the northern border Monday as the country braced for a possible retaliation from Lebanese terror group Hezbollah a day after an airstrike killed six of the movement’s operatives.

Israel Defense Forces’ Chief of Staff Benny Gantz said Monday the army was prepared and monitoring security developments in the region.

The IDF chief’s comments came a day after an airstrike attributed to Israel killed a senior Hezbollah commander, several members of the Lebanese terror group, and a number of Iranian fighters, including a commander.

“The IDF is prepared, tracking all developments, and ready to act as needed,” Gantz announced. “This statement is not simply a speech — it’s a matter of real operational preparedness.”

The chief of staff did not directly address the alleged Israeli airstrike, in line with Israeli policy.

In the north, several IDF units deployed along the border that were set to go on leave were ordered to stay put, Haaretz reported.

Farmers in the far northern town of Metulla were instructed by the IDF to stay away from their fields abutting the border, according to Channel 10.

The security cabinet was slated to hold a special meeting Tuesday amid concerns of escalation in the northern front over Sunday’s strikes in Quneitra.

Meanwhile, the Lebanese al-Mayadeen TV station released the first footage of the burning wreckage in the immediate aftermath of the strike.


Sources in Hezbollah said earlier Monday that retaliation for an alleged Israeli airstrike that killed several of its members was inevitable, but would be restrained enough to not provoke a war.

The Lebanese daily As-Safir, which is identified with Hezbollah, cited sources close to the Shiite terror group as saying that it would choose a time and place to hit back, but would do so in a manner that wouldn’t cause an escalation in the conflict.

At least six Hezbollah members, including a senior commander, were killed in a reported Israeli helicopter strike in the Syrian Golan Heights on Sunday, according to sources close to the terror group.

Among the dead was Jihad Mughniyeh, the son of Imad Mughniyeh, a senior Hezbollah commander killed in Damascus in 2008, allegedly by Israel.

Jihad Mughniyeh had been serving as the Shiite terrorist group’s Golan District commander, Western sources said. Mughniyeh was buried in Beirut on Monday, in a funeral attended by thousands.

The attack would “draw a painful and unexpected response, but we can assume that it will be controlled and beneath the level that could escalate into all-out war,” the Hezbollah sources told As-Safir, and recalled a roadside bomb attack in October 2014 that injured two IDF soldiers.


Source: Iron Dome batteries deployed as north braces for Hezbollah response | The Times of Israel
 
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