Hezbollah cross-border attack sparks fears of border deterioration, expanded fighting


Hezbollah fighters on Tuesday attacked an Israeli convoy with a roadside bomb planted inside Israeli territory, injuring two soldiers and triggering concerns that the Iran-backed terror group may be shifting its posture toward the Jewish state and risking a deterioration along the Israel-Lebanon border. The attack - which was quickly claimed by Hezbollah - follows a Sunday incident in which IDF soldiers opened fire on what seems to have been a cross-border infiltration attempt from Lebanon. It marked the first time that the Shiite organization had taken credit for an attack since last March. Subsequent months had seen Hezbollah deepen its involvement in the Syrian conflict, to the point where its fighting for the Bashar al-Assad regime has now become a matter of open boasting for Iranian military leaders. Most analysts nonetheless consider Hezbollah's involvement in the region's over-three-year conflict - involvement which has among other things dragged Lebanon into the Syrian war and brought Hezbollah's fighters into Iraq - to have stressed its resources. The organization remains capable of saturation bombing and perhaps even invading Israeli population centers - a summer analysis by Israeli military analyst Amos Harel sketched out multiple scenarios - but Hezbollah leaders are widely thought to be uninterested in a near-term escalation with Jerusalem. Analysts suggested that the group's willingness to nonetheless risk a security deterioration was part of an effort to relieve pressure on the group. Veteran Arab affairs journalist Avi Issacharoff suggested that Hezbollah was seeking to brush back Israeli efforts at interdicting advanced weapons, which Hezbollah has been smuggling out of Syria and stockpiling in preparation for a future conflagration against Israel. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday contextualized the incident against the backdrop of the regional crisis, telling the country's cabinet that "we are witness to threats accumulating around us" and committing Israel to "respond with force against any attempt to attack" the Jewish state. Various organs of the Israeli government were explicit in holding the Lebanese government accountable for attacks originating in its sovereign territory.


In response to urgent pleas from the United Nations, the World Health Organization, the US government and other countries, Israel is sending more than a million shekels’ worth of medical equipment, as well as expert personnel to fight the spread of the African Ebola epidemic that has claimed 3,400 lives since March and has infected almost 7,200 people. Earlier this week, Israel’s Defense Ministry told the US and UN that it could not fulfill a request to send IDF field hospitals to Liberia and Sierra Leone, out of concern for the safety of Israeli health workers. MASHAV-Israel’s Agency for International Development Cooperation of the Foreign Ministry-is answering a different but just as pressing need: prevention. Within the next two weeks, MASHAV will ship three mobile emergency Ebola treatment units, equipped to handle the first cases that may be discovered, to the three countries deemed at highest risk of infection. Those countries will be selected in conjunction with the Ministry of Health. Each 10-bed unit will be accompanied by an Israeli team including technicians to construct them and train local personnel how to run them, and a doctor and a nurse under the auspices of the Health Ministry. They will train their African counterparts to educate at-risk populations on how to prevent the spread of the disease. Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations Ron Prosor told a Security Council in September that just as Israel answered the call for humanitarian aid in Haiti, Ghana and the Philippines, “Israel is ready for the new challenge standing before the world, and has started providing funds and medical equipment.” (via Israel21c)

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