Mideast Israel Lebanon

Israeli forces on patrol near the Lebanon border

Benjamin Netanyahu last night vowed that those behind the killing of two IDF soldiers on the Lebanon border would pay a “price” after Hezbollah claimed responsibility.

The Iranian-backed group, operating in Syria, struck an Israeli army convoy in an anti-tank missile strike, in what is believed to be a response to a recent Israeli drone strike, which killed a Hezbollah commander.

Yesterday’s incident came hours after Israeli jets hit several targets inside Syria, near Wazzani village.

An hour later, mortars were fired on Israeli military positions on Har Dov mountain and Mount Hermon. Israeli forces hit back, shelling positions across the border, in fighting that left a Spanish UN peacekeeper dead, and which represented the most significant escalation in years.

“My recommendation to those who challenge us in the north is to take a look at what happened in Gaza,” said Prime Minister Netanyahu.

“The IDF stands ready to act forcefully on all fronts.”

Defence Minister Moshe Ya’alon said it was a “blatant breach of Israeli sovereignty” and added that the IDF “holds the Syrian government accountable for all attacks emanating from its land”.

The latest attack, which is the most significant since Hezbollah rockets rained down on Israel for a month in 2006, comes as the IDF steps up its search for tunnels it believes Lebanese Hezbollah fighters may have dug.

Until recently, Hezbollah was thought to be too embroiled in the Syrian conflict to start a war with Israel, but the latest attack has prompted a re-evaluation in Jerusalem, as the country prepares for a security-focused election in March.