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January 2015 Shebaa farms incident

As a response to an attack against a military convoy comprising Hezbollah and Iranian officers on January 18, 2015 at Quneitra in southern Syria, the Lebanese Hezbollah group launched an ambush on January 28 against an Israeli military convoy in the Israeli-occupied Shebaa Farms, firing anti-tank missiles against two Israeli Humvees patrolling the border,[2] destroying the two Humvees and killing 2 and wounding 7 Israeli soldiers, according to Israeli military. The number of Israeli casualties was 15 according to a report by Al Mayadeen television station. A Spanish UN peacekeeper was also killed by Israeli fire[3] during consequent fire exchanges in the area, with Israel firing artillery and Hezbollah responding by mortar shells. The conflict ended later the same day after UNIFIL mediation.

January 2015 Shebaa farms incident
Shebaa Farms operation (عملية مزارع شبعا)
Part of Israeli–Lebanese conflict and Israel–Iran proxy conflict
Shebaa Farms.jpg
Map of the Shebaa Farms
TypeAmbush
Location
ObjectiveTo attack an Israeli military convoy as a response to January 2015 Mazraat Amal incident
Date28 January 2015 (2015-01-28)
11:25am (UTC+02:00)
Executed byHezbollah
OutcomeSuccessful
Casualties2 Humvees destroyed
2 Israelis killed, 7 lightly-moderately wounded[1]
1 Spanish UN peacekeeper killed during cross shellings in the area.

Contents

Background

During the Syrian Civil War, Hezbollah has had an increasing presence in southern Syria. Israel was accused of launching several airstrikes against Hezbollah and Syrian Army targets in southern Syria during the civil war, though it denied involvement. Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrullah had warned that it would retaliate against Israeli attacks against Hezbollah inside Syria.[4][better source needed]

On January 18, 2015, an airstrike was launched against a convoy, killing six Hezbollah militants, including two prominent members and Iranian Revolutionary Guards general Mohammad Ali Allahdadi, at al-Amal Farms (Mazraat Amal) in the Quneitra District of Syria, in the Golan Heights. Hezbollah and IRGC held Israel responsible and threatened to retaliate.[5] Amid official Israeli silence, a flurry of statements from anonymous Israeli officials made contradictory claims, one saying that Israel believed it was attacking only low-ranking Hezbollah militants planning an attack on Israelis at the frontier fence. One Israeli official reportedly apologised anonymously.[6]

On January 27, at least two rockets from Syria hit the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, and Israel responded with airstrikes and 20 artillery shells against Syrian army artillery positions.[7] A senior IDF official held Hezbollah responsible.[8]

Attack

On January 28, 2015, at 11:25am (UTC+02:00), a Hezbollah unit, "al-Quneitra Martyrs' group" (مجموعة شهداء القنيطرة, a reference to the attack in Quneitra against a Hezbollah convoy), comprising five militants,[9] fired anti-tank missiles (supposedly 9M133 Kornet)[10] at two Humvees of an Israeli military convoy of 432nd "Tsabar" Infantry Battalion of the Givati Brigade in the Israeli-occupied Shebaa Farms near the Lebanon border. Hezbollah immediately issued a brief statement[11] claiming responsibility for the attack.[12] A Lebanese army spokesman later said the missile was not fired from Lebanese territory.[13]

Two hours after the initial attack, Israel fired at least 50 artillery shells into Shebaa Farms and the surrounding hills and South Lebanese border villages, and Israeli warplanes carried out mock air raids over the scene of the attack.[13][14] Hezbollah responded with mortar shells against Israeli positions in the Mount Dov area along the northern border.[8]

Commander of the UNIFIL forces Major General Luciano Portolano called for restraint from all parties in order to prevent escalation. Shelling ceased around 2 pm, although Israeli warplanes hovered overhead.[12]

Aftermath

The Hezbollah attack on the Israeli convoy at Shebaa farms killed two and wounded seven Israeli soldiers, according to the Israeli military.[13][15] The IDF identified the victims as Sergeant Dor Chaim Nini, 20, and Captain Yochai Kalangel, 25.[8] Al Mayadeen satellite channel said that fifteen soldiers had been killed in the attack.[16][17]

A Spanish UN peacekeeper, Cpl. Francisco Javier Soria Toledo, was killed by Israeli fire; Israel acknowledged this but said that it had no intentions to harm UN troops.[18]

Flights were suspended at the Israeli airports in Rosh Pina and Haifa.[12] In Beirut, celebratory gunfire could be heard the afternoon after the attack.[19]

According to Robert Tait in The Telegraph, Israel stood on the brink of all-out conflict with Hezbollah by performing air and ground strikes against it in retaliation for the incident,[20] though while things were tense neither side was interested in further escalation. No Israeli reserve soldiers were mobilised, thus indicating that an "all-out conflict" was out of the question.

References

  1. ^ "IDF soldiers killed in Hezbollah Mt. Dov attack named". ynet.
  2. ^ Tel Aviv Diary: Netanyahu Loses His Security Edge BY MARC SCHULMAN 1/28/15, Newsweek
  3. ^ "Israel admits its fire killed Spanish UN peacekeeper - BBC News". BBC News. Retrieved 9 March 2016.
  4. ^ BBC News - 'Israel strike' kills Hezbollah men in Syria's ...
  5. ^ Peter Beaumont. "Israel unaware killed Iranian general was in Hezbollah convoy in Syria". the Guardian.
  6. ^ "Hezbollah seeks revenge but not war over Israel - Al Jazeera America". aljazeera.com.
  7. ^ "Israel: IDF soldiers wounded in Hezbollah anti-tank missile attack from Lebanon". International Business Times UK.
  8. ^ a b c "Spain blames Israel for death of UN peacekeeper". i24news.
  9. ^ "Hezbollah Describes Shebaa Farms Operation + Video". alalam.ir.
  10. ^ "medhajnews- Exclusive: All about Kornet, the Hezbollah missile that shattered Netanyahu". medhajnews.com.
  11. ^ ""مجموعة شهداء القنيطرة" في حزب الله تتبنى عملية مزارع شبعا". Al Mayadeen.
  12. ^ a b c "Hezbollah ambush kills at least 2 Israeli soldiers". The Daily Star Newspaper - Lebanon.
  13. ^ a b c "Two Israeli soldiers killed in Hezbollah missile attack". aljazeera.com.
  14. ^ "Hezbollah ambush kills at least 2 Israeli soldiers". The Daily Star Newspaper - Lebanon.
  15. ^ Nicholas Casey in Tel Aviv and Raja Abdulrahim in Beirut (29 January 2015). "Two Israeli Soldiers Killed in Attack Claimed by Lebanon's Hezbollah". WSJ.
  16. ^ "Israel Army Confirms 2 Soldiers Killed in Hezbollah Attack". palestinechronicle.com.
  17. ^ "15 Israeli Soldiers Killed in South Lebanon". Financial Tribune Daily.
  18. ^ "Israel admits its fire killed Spanish UN peacekeeper - BBC News". BBC News. Retrieved 9 March 2016.
  19. ^ "Hezbollah ambush kills at least 2 Israeli soldiers".
  20. ^ "Israel on brink of new conflict with Hizbollah after 2 soldiers killed". Telegraph.co.uk. 28 January 2015.

Coordinates: 33°17′32″N 35°42′31″E / 33.2922°N 35.7086°E / 33.2922; 35.7086