No Israeli casualties, despite Hezbollah initial claims.
Israeli raids on Iranian bases in Syria killed two Hezbollah operatives working with the Iranians to launch drone attacks on Israel. That same day, Israel reportedly destroyed key Iranian missile manufacturing equipment in the heart of Hezbollah’s Beirut stronghold, using small copter-drones.
Everyone expected some form of Hezbollah retaliation — enough so it could save face for these two losses, but not so much that it would spark a wider war. In the past few years, Hezbollah retaliation has been done with guided anti-tank missile attacks on Israeli vehicles along the Lebanese border or in disputed areas claimed by both Israel and Lebanon.
And so it happened again, Hezbollah fired anti-tank missiles striking one or more vehicles near the Israeli community of Moshav Avivim.
Initially, Hezbollah supporters proclaimed that they had killed several Israeli soldiers in vehicles, and some even claimed that a senior IDF officer was killed.
Hezbollah’s Al-Manar News released what purported to show the aftermath of the attack:
The Hamas Quds News Network circulated video of the evacuation of the wounded:
This reporter for Hezbollah Al-Manar TV posted photos of celebrations on the Lebanese side of the border:
In reality, there were no casualties, the Israelis deliberately put on the ruse of evacuating “wounded,” only to announce an hour later that no one was hurt.
It was all part of the game along the border — a deadly serious game. The Times of Israel reports:
The IDF conducted a staged evacuation of “wounded” soldiers from a military vehicle struck Sunday by a Hezbollah anti-tank missile just inside Israel’s border with Lebanon.
After the armored vehicle was struck Sunday afternoon, the army dispatched a helicopter to the scene and two apparently bleeding and bandaged soldiers were filmed being evacuated.
Lebanese media subsequently began reporting of a successful operation by the terror group, which struck several military targets.
The Iran-backed terror group quickly took responsibility for the missile strikes, saying in a statement that its fighters “destroyed an ‘Israeli’ military vehicle on the Avivim barracks road [in northern Israel] and killed and injured those in it.” …
Later Sunday evening, after Israel carried out extensive strikes in Lebanon in response to the missile attack, it emerged that the two “wounded” soldiers had in fact been part of a staged rescue operation planned ahead of time. Israel apparently hoped that Hezbollah, thinking it had inflicted casualties, would conclude that it had retaliated sufficiently for a pair of Israeli strikes on Hezbollah and Iranian targets late last month, and hold its fire.
Netanyahu appeared to taunt Hezbollah:
Speaking before a planned appearance with the visiting president of Honduras, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu confirmed that Israel had responded “with 100 shells, aerial fire and various measures” into Lebanese territory. He said that “We have no casualties – not even a scratch.”
“I have given instructions to be prepared for any scenario, and we will decide on what’s next depending on how things develop,” Netanyahu added.
PM Netanyahu on #Hezbollah attack earlier today:
We were attacked with several anti-tank missiles. We responded with 100 shells and firing from the air by various means. We have no casualties.
We will decide on the next steps pending developments.pic.twitter.com/V0wkAZaoQZ
— Israel Foreign Ministry (@IsraelMFA) September 1, 2019
Avivim should be familiar to Legal Insurrection readers. The military base is located next to Moshav Avivim, which I visited in 2015 and reported on for Legal Insurrection.
I noted how close Moshav Avivim was to the border, and how you had to drive right by the multiple border fences to reach the community:But mostly, my 2015 post was about the people of Moshav Avivim, and how they were were never far from trouble, including a murderous rocket attack on a school bus by Palestinian terrorists firing from Lebanon in 1970:
Moshav Avivim and another community down the road split the school grades because neither itself had enough few children to justify a school with all grades. So the older children from the other community would come by bus to Moshav Avivim, and the bus would then bring the younger children from Moshav Avivim to the other community.
That was what happened on May 22, 1970. The older children got off the bus at Moshav Avivim, and the younger children from Moshav Avivim boarded the bus.
Shimon Biton, then six and one-half years old, boarded the bus accompanied by his father, Machluf Biton, who was the parent designated to ride the bus that day. Several of Shimon’s cousins also were on the bus. The bus clearly was a school bus, and followed the same routine every day.
A few kilometers after the bus left Moshav Avivim, it was attacked with bazooka fire from three terrorist belonging to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine – General Command, who infiltrated from Lebanon….
Shimon’s father was killed in the attack, but Shimon initially was not severely injured since he was at the back. As he ran forward to check on his father, Shimon was shot several time by one of the terrorists. (He offered to show us the wounds, but we declined.) ….
Shimon would spend the next year at Rambam Hospital in Haifa. It was several months before he learned his father had been killed, along with three first cousins, two boys and a girl on his father’s side.
Here is a list of the 12 dead:
Ester Avikezer (23), Yehuda Ohayon (10), Yafa Batito (8), Shimon Azran (35), Mimon Biton (7), Haviva Biton (7), Chana Biton (8), Shimon Biton (9), Shulamit Biton (9), Machluf Biton (28), Aliza Peretz (14), Rami Yarkoni (29).
…. What were his feelings over the years? Shimon felt that he had exacted revenge, but not in the way you might think.
Revenge, according to Shimon, came from the fact that “we are still here and building for another 70 families.”
That could be the end of the story, a story of triumph over evil at great cost, of perseverance, of building while others sought to tear down.
But there was a twist.
Remember that nurse in the photo above? Shimon had no contact with her for 45 years. He was in shock at the time, and wouldn’t have remembered what she looked like, much less her name.
Ten days before we met him, Shimon met that nurse for the first time since that fateful day 45 years earlier, at a reunion with several other survivors.
Here is the photo Shimon shared with me from his phone, next to the nurse, Adina:
The Bitons and Moshav Avivim are still there, and Hezbollah can’t change that.
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