The Lowdown on Hezbollah’s Ambush in South Lebanon

Firefighters and residents gather at the site of an explosion in Beirut's southern suburb neighbourhood of Bir al-Abed on 9 July 2013. (Photo: AFP - STR)

By: Ibrahim al-Amin

Published Thursday, August 8, 2013

Near midnight on Tuesday, August 6, an Israeli commando unit began to move from the Palestinian side toward Lebanon’s northern frontier. The unit deployed to several points along the fence before starting to cross into Lebanon nearly 20 minutes later.

The unit followed a path that is in the line of sight of both Labbouna and Jall al-Alam, the two largest Israeli outposts in the western area near the southern Lebanese village of Alma al-Shaab. In the area, there is a narrow footpath that Israeli soldiers have been caught using before, carrying out activities of a security nature.

To cross further into Lebanese territory, the Israeli soldiers had almost no choice but to take a road that bypasses the UNIFIL outpost, while also allowing them to go undetected by the Lebanese army post nearby. This road is nearly 1 km. The soldiers took a few minutes to cross it, moving toward another area containing what resembles a ditch, which the soldiers crossed before arriving at slightly higher ground.

At 40 minutes past midnight, an explosive device containing four smaller devices filled with ball bearings exploded. Exactly 20 seconds later, a similar device was detonated. The two explosions had a blast radius of about 15 meters, enough to hit everything and everyone that moved within the blast zone.

The well-trained Israeli soldiers, as they appeared to be, had been deployed in formations that seemed to anticipate an ambush. They kept a certain distance from one another, while some took cover behind the hills of the same ditch mentioned earlier, and others moved to higher ground. Nevertheless, the intruding unit was dispersed in a matter of minutes.

A firefight ensued, but news of it was suppressed until yesterday evening. A rescue force intervened soon after, along with soldiers from the Labbouna and Jall al-Alam outposts, firing flares in the sky, while moving to evacuate the casualties.

Although the Israeli army needed quite some time to complete the evacuation, it is clear that the Israeli army was also keen to remove, as much as possible, all traces of events. However, the injuries of the soldiers and fear of new attacks, forced the Israelis to withdraw quickly, leaving traces of blood behind. After about four and a half hours, the site of the confrontation was completely deserted.

Meanwhile, and unsurprisingly, UNIFIL stood idly by, doing nothing to investigate the incident. According to a senior officer in the UN peacekeeping force, his soldiers made quick contacts with the Israeli side, which claimed that nothing significant had taken place, and that the two explosions were probably caused by fireworks.

When the Lebanese army detachment in the area received orders to go to the location of the incident, the UNIFIL soldiers tried to go with them. But the Lebanese army asked them to stand by, before asking them later to join the Lebanese soldiers at the site.

At any rate, no one was going to find anything there. Lebanese and international soldiers examined the scene of the confrontation, and all they saw were traces of ball bearings in the trees, and a blood trail marking the Israeli line of withdrawal. The distance by which the Israelis breached the border was determined by measuring the distance between the farthest blood spatter and the Blue Line, and was found to be around 400 meters into Lebanese territory.

Conclusions

It seems that the Israeli unit was tasked to carry out a military operation rather than reconnaissance and intelligence gathering. It is not yet known what exactly the soldiers intended to do during their incursion in one of the last nights of Ramadan, but informed observers believe it likely that the Israelis were preparing for some kind of a military-intelligence operation.

Details remain elusive, but it might be worthwhile to note that the incident took place around the same time as the last few days of the famous July war, when the Israeli army moved its armored divisions and infantry only to be dealt the harshest defeat in its history.

Israel announced that four of its soldiers were wounded in the incident, including three who suffered moderate wounds and a fourth who had minor injuries. Israeli military censors, however, prevented doctors, journalists, and mayors in the northern settlements from disclosing any further details.

Nevertheless, the statements made by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon in the aftermath of the incident are sufficient to confirm that the Israeli army was about to carry out some kind of operation inside Lebanese territory. All hints made by the Israelis about “defending the border” practically mean that the Israeli side is admitting to committing the folly of violating the border with Lebanon, before encountering an ambush that only the Resistance could have set up, with explosive devices meant only for the Israelis.

The military analysis and the lessons of the 10-minute encounter have put the Israelis face to face with some embarrassing questions. These questions can also be addressed to those who continue to question the worth of the Resistance, its weapons, and its readiness.

First, after nearly 30 years of an open-ended confrontation between the Resistance and the enemy, the Israelis continue to encounter unpleasant surprises. Sixteen years after the famous ambush in Ansariyeh in September 1997 – when an elite Israeli unit was routed in a Hezbollah ambush – the Resistance can still demonstrate its ability to surprise the enemy. What will be told in detail later is that the Israeli force fell into an airtight ambush this time as well. Despite the many secrets that continue to engulf the incident near Alma al-Shaab, the Israelis face a difficult question: How did Hezbollah know they were coming?

For the enemy, the obvious conclusion will be that the Resistance remains ready and vigilant, fully prepared to face any Israeli incursion. This readiness means the Resistance still has the element of surprise.

Second, the ambush demonstrates a serious intelligence failure by the enemy. The ambush was planned in advance, which means that Hezbollah has an intelligence apparatus that allowed the party to learn the time of the Israeli patrol’s incursion, and to subsequently prepare an explosive trap within range from two of the largest Israeli border outposts.

As a result, Israel faces even more embarrassing questions: How did Hezbollah learn about the mission? How was it able – and how did it dare – to set up an ambush in this area without being noticed? How did the Resistance succeed in carrying out its operation and withdraw safely?

Third, Tuesday night’s incident has revealed not only the readiness of the Resistance along Lebanon’s southern border, but what could be more serious in the eyes of the enemy, namely, that Hezbollah has resolved to counter any Israeli incursion. In other words, Hezbollah has resolved not only to engage Israeli forces breaching the border, but is prepared for any confrontation, including a full-blown war.

Can Benny Gantz, the Israeli army chief of staff, invoke again today his theory of Nasrallah’s “cloak on fire,” which claims that Hezbollah has its hands tied because of its involvement in the Syrian conflict – where it is allegedly losing dozens of its elite fighters, and over which it is coming under immense pressure both at home and abroad?

Fourth, it appears that Israel has kept a tight lid on the details of the incident, gagging military officials, journalists, and medical staff, and allowing only political officials to speak about the explosion. This could only reflect Israel’s embarrassment and its attempt at damage control.

Indeed, Israel has shot itself in the foot with this incident. After expressing extreme joy for the European Union’s move to designate the Resistance – or what the European fools called the military wing of Hezbollah – as a terror group, what will Lieberman tell EU ambassadors? What will the Europeans themselves say about Israel’s violations? Or will they condemn the Resistance’s ambush because in their own classification Hezbollah is a terrorist organization?

March 14 and the People of South Lebanon

Naturally, none of March 14 leaders will condemn the Israeli violations. They will not go further than issuing meaningless statements that recycle their same old bromides. In fact, it is not far-fetched for those frenzied leaders to complain because entities in Lebanon had violated Resolution 1701, which prohibits the presence of weapons and fighters in UNIFIL’s area of operation.

Only people in the South, who climbed to the roofs of their homes that night to see what was happening, will, on the eve and morning of Eid al-Fitr, remember that while they were staying up after iftar, heroic men slipped silently from amongst them to ensure the integrity of their land and honor, and carry out their duties against an arrogant enemy that never learns from its mistakes. Those men did their job, and returned home before dawn to have the suhur meal with their families, and talk about the celebrations of victory.

Ibrahim al-Amin is editor-in-chief of Al-Akhbar.

This article is an edited translation from the Arabic Edition.

Comments

The brave words of Mr. Amin are without even the slightest bit of attribution. He dose not say where or how he got this "exclusive information" he shares with us so surely as the "lowdown." But why would we expect standard journalistic practices from a propagandist. Mr. Amin you are not even close to be considered a journalist nor in any way credible. Why would anyone believe anything you say? Your title should be changed to Propagandist in Chief, Mouthpiece of Hezbollah, and Voice of Iran. After nearly 30 years of an "open-ended confrontation between the Resistance and the enemy," Hezbollah has not liberated an inch of Palestine and it never will. What it will do, if not confronted, is bring Lebanon to its knees as it pushes a foreign agenda that is not at all the interest of the Lebanese society.

Congratulations to Nasserullah.May God give give a life long enough to welcome Imam Mehdi when he reappears wth jesus Christ.

The Holy Quran says 'Jaagalhaq wa zahiqal batil inabatilan kaana zaahuqa.'
Translated :Truth has come and falsehood vanquished.And Falsehood will for ever be vanquished.
Who,but Hezbullah drove out Israel after their attempted colonisation of Lebanon which they tried,invading right up to beirut,but Hezbulla.

Robert Fisk says this when Hezbulla was born.Naserullah lost his son in intial squirmiishes!It was his sacrifice for cause of Lebanon's integrity

Dear idiots,

Israel's one failed mission among 100s of them is nothing to be proud about. Plus, I fail to see a single shred of proof of what has happened. Pictures, traces of blooed, anything? Given Hezbollah's lack of credibility and making up stories, I don't believe a word coming from there. The story was not confirmed by UNIFIL either. Given Hezbollah's current standing in the Arab world and how much they have lost the respect of the region, they need stories like this to boost their reputation. They need to somehow mask their terrorist and murderous nature and they need to of course use the Zionists to do it for them.

I do not believe this happened.

Dear Moshe, how many shekels do you get paid per post? Just wondering how generous they are at hasbara HQ. Sayyed Hassan has more credibility than any Arab leader - even among your fellow 'Israelis. Suck on that. Now go back to your trolling, jackass.

In your response to Anonymous, I as a Lebanese, totally agree with Anonymous and laugh at your silly accusation. We Lebanese know Nasrallah a lot better that those from the outside. He may well have had a vision as he claims, but the vision was finally discovered when he showed his true colours in what he was planning for the people of Lebanon. We do not wish for Lebanon to become a totally Muslim country as his vision calls for. His vision is to annex Lebanon to Syria just as Saddam Hussain wanted to annex Kuwait for making it Iraq's 13th. province.
Thus in conclusion it shows that you have yet to fully understand how Nasrallah the 'Sewer Rat' as he is known throughout Lebanon, will say anything to make people believe him as being the great saviour of the Lebanese people.
You are obviously an Islamic extremist who is already blinded with the Nasrallah vision of liberation for turning Lebanon into a country controlled by Mullahs. Sorry to disappoint you with your vision objective. As for calling others a 'Jackass' there is no doubt in my mind and in the mind of those who may or may not read this post, that it is indeed you who is ignorant of things, but equally a Jackass with shit for brains. Suck on that yourself.

You've appointed yourself spokesperson for all Lebanese? You certainly don't speak for me (a Christian Lebanese, by the way - had to laugh at your accusation of me being an 'Islamic extremist' just because I support the resistance. It says a lot about your simplistic Zionist mentality) and you certainly don't speak for a large number of Lebanese from different sects and backgrounds who respect and admire Sayyed Hassan. I don't think you're fooling anyone with your constant claims of being Lebanese. Moshe must have tag-teamed you to step in on his behalf. Can't be hard to do that at Hasbara HQ since you sit parked next to each other at your computers all day. Nice try!

Hahaha!! I love this story. I'm relishing every detail about how the 'Israeli' fools got trounced by the resistance. So much for the 'elite' commando forces of the Zionist entity. A few paces over the border and they got a swift hiding from Hezbollah. Long live the resistance and long live Sayyed Hassan!

Most likely those explosives were already there at hezbollah just got lucky.
While hezbollah is indeed a strong force, it's nothing compared to the IDF. Maybe israel "lost" in 2006, but Israelis are living freely while Gezbollah still living in absolute poverty and filth...so whose really the winner?

Free and poor aren't the same...

They're definitely not poor at all, with all the drug trades, mass armaments and income from Iran.
They may be living in filth, but they move as freely as they want. after all, they're all around the world.

The replies I've been reading are so meaningless and trivial! They only reflect the intelligence of their writers... As usual its only something that went wrong with invisible, well trained IDF... Wake up brains! Admit your bankruptcy.....

Thanks

Resistance = existence. And the future Middle East belongs to Iran not Russian/ European Jews who like a free home. There are the facts wither you like it or not.

Haha
Huge victory?!
Not a single soldier seriously wounded.
This is not Qusair.
This article shows extreme weakness and vulnerability of the Shiite terrorists.
If this is your definition of victory, wait for our definition of war.

You won't be fighting rag-tag poorly equipped FSA.

And they are killing many of your occupation terrorists.
Lol

Your definition of war? Like the 2006 definition? Where Israel lost against Hezbollah despite the fact that Israel used all 3 of its military capacities? Hezbollah knew of Israels incursion and could have fired a guided missile instead, which would probably have taken hours to initiate, would require many more troops, would probably have been detected by Satellites and may have incited an international response. Israel lost in 2006, it lost again just now and it will keep losing.

You talk of terrorism and yet it is you people that bring terror every where, it was terrorist like lehi gang jdl and so that brought Israel to existence. Search about your history before making bullshit assumptions.

everyone of us on this forum has a right to his/ her opinion. but disputing that this was a huge victory against the paranoid zionist forces who especially chose to carry out thier evil activities under the cover of the night is being unrealistic. if it was not huge then why would the Bibi government gag everyone in israel to write about it? to the government in Telavivi they consider this operation a total fiasco and a huge embarrassment. and to the elements who were physically there in the gon bad operation, they got a shock of thier lives and they would wish it never again happens. and a video of the whole operation has been promised in the coming days.......

Galilee and Jerusalem is our next destination my lovely stinky settler!

March 14 represents chauvinist pockets of leaders and their supporters who have never taken all of Lebanon to heart. In case they have not noticed that while unbearable corruption in government remains the civil war is over.

This chauvinistic and formerly privileged political alliance must face the reality of the South as Lebanese and not as pampered and selfish rascals and who need to take a good look at the capital Beirut now beyond only the Southern suburbs.

Mr Al-Amin,

That was a Hezbollah press release if I ever saw one. What an amazing account of such an important battle against the enemy. I nearly cried.

I am sure Hezbollah is only taking credit. The explosive belonged to the IDF force and something went wrong.
If it was an ambush many more would be wounded or at least killed.

Sure you're sure, in fact it makes perfect military sense for the Israeli Offense Forces to creep into Lebanon at night on a special mission to blow themselves up, then crawl back to their stolen homes, bleeding from freshly ripped orifices; congratulations, Sparky, you just qualified for a job in 'American Intelligence'!

But seriously, well done, Hezbollah, keep up the excellent work! ";0))

Very poetic, Mr al-Amin, but isn't it possible that the area was routinely sown with anti-personnel mines? That there was no foreknowledge at all?

Could be..;)

The bottom line is that Israel has a Rat leaking out information.

Israel has indeed sources in Lebanon reporting to them. The sources are Christians and non-Christians alike, who are fed up with the way Hezbollah has taken over the reigns in conducting matters on Lebanese soil. Hezbollah is and remains the control source and more so, the voice of Syria. That is why Hezbollah is so adamant in rescuing Syria from those that wish to overturn the Assad regime. Hezbollah is nothing more than a guise of Assad's Syria. Lebanon will be totally free of the Hezbollah vermin once a change in power takes place in Syria. Then watch Nasrallah the sewer rat escape to Iran to hide.

You call yourself Activist4Justice? Please don't make me laugh. Perhaps you need to get some lessons on Politics and Justice other than in the West's manuals. Or perhaps you are one of those israeli sympathisers and/or even a source, as you seem to know or are aware of them. back to school, mate.

How easily you confront me by calling me a sympathizer for the Zionist side. Let's talk about the facts. Hezbollah was and remains the voice of Syria in Lebanon. The Syrians and their Hezbollah allies had Hariri killed. That is a fact. I do not hear any words of anger coming from you for the deaths of innocents Syrians civilians killed by Assad's army along with the help of Hezbollah who themselves should be tried for war crimes for those they in turn massacred in Syria. You are obviously a supporter of Iran, and Nasralla's Hezbollah and Syria's Assad, which confirms as to why you attack all those who criticize Hezbollah, its Syrian allies and Iran. As for my historical background, I am in my seventies and well educated on Middle East affairs. I live in Lebanon. From the way you write and comment, shows to those that read your retaliatory false accusations, that you're still in your dippers. You most probably still suck your thumb as well.

IActivist4Justice
You say Hezbollah are the voice of Syria in Lebanon. Hezbollah is popular among Shias in Lebanon so they are representative of Lebanese Shias. Don't their supporters in Lebanon count as Lebanese? The fact Iran supports them doesn't mean any less. With the Wahhabi diatribes & funding against other Muslim sects, why shouldn't they look for support from Iran? What is the Iranian agenda so feared by some Arabs? How can they control a majority Sunni Middle East? Compare this to the Zionist agenda. Land theft & ethnic cleansing. Why should the latter be dealt with at any civil level. Yet Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan etc have relations with the colonising Zionists that slaughter Palestinians & Lebanese. Don't you agree that this is immoral & treacherous & is rewarding war criminals? On the contrary, the Egyptian government closes the tunnels that feed the Palestinians. And where do these Arab states stand on Iraq which has been destroyed by sanctions, invasion & a puppet government? Who imposed crippling sanctions on them? Who invaded them? Who set up those thieving puppets?

The Iranians are not a backward people. They come from a sophisticated, high civilisation. They are independent, unlike our autocratic, unelected, imbeciles that rule the Arab countries. They are streets ahead in industry & technology compared to the Arabs. The Mullahs won't last forever but Iranian progress will continue.

I'm no fan of Assad, but the opposition in the running are sectarian to the core. Their diatribes against non Sunnis are all over the internet. They are backed by Arab governments that are as autocratic as Assad. Where is the outcry for their populations? No doubt both sides are committing war crimes. But the minorities don't see the Jihadis as liberators, and not all Sunnis do. The jihadis hijacked the real revolution by the Syrian people. It seems the Islamists are not welcomed by all Sunnis throughout the region. Egypt & Tunisia are indicating this.

Hezb killing Harriri is not a fact, the facts are Syria is being bombarded by terrorists sent by the west and trained in Saudi and Turkey to overthrow the revolution. Maybe what started in Syria was a legit revolution but it was taken advantage of by the Zionists and the west! Yes Bashar Al Assad is a dictator, but the Syrians will take him any day over this sharia law abiding Syria these insurgents are trying to establish! Your age has nothing to do with ur wrong opinion and false claims to know what is factual and what is not. You obviously haven't gained experience enough or wisdom to differentiate! Hezbollah is a LEBANESE HEZB ABOVE ALL; calling it an Iranian hezb only helps spread this bullshitted propaganda! If Hezbollah wanted to establish a Shiite Muslim Lebanon wouldn't they start with south of Lebanon? Yes the majority are Shiite but there's a big Christian percentage, as well as have you been to the south? Have you seen those Shiites how they're living? The freedom these women have to dress however they like and do whatever they please? I'm one of them and I speak from first hand experience! You're all so brain washed and on that 'let's blame Hezbollah bandwagon' you have become incredibly ignorant! If it wasn't for Hezbollah you wouldn't be living in Lebanon right now, there wouldn't be such a thing as Lebanon! You unappreciative ignorant old man.

My reply is to the two 'Anonymous' who commented after what I wrote. I no longer live in the Lebanese area and that is a true fact. However that does not mean that (this old man - me) remains oblivious to your statements regarding who Hezbollah is and what they represent. The sad part of it all, is that Hezbollah had a vision at one time, that rapidly changed and has now taken a different course of action re; its original objective. Lebanon does have a very large Christian population, but take a look at what is presently happening Egypt regarding Coptic Christianity. Egypt's Christians are in fear of their lives because or Morsi's fall which is blamed on Christians. Lebanon will soon be no different, and once Hezbollah takes over, Christians in Lebanon will equally become the victims, much like they (myself included) did, just before Israel invaded our country in 1982 to fight against Yasser Arafat, who I remind you killed many Christians throughout Lebanon prior to the Israeli invasion.
Please do not be so naïve that you don't know that Hezbollah has indeed began establishing an Islamic nation in Lebanon. The South is but a beginning and is in fact presently being implemented. I was there recently and saw things that I would have never have believed possible. You speak with anger rather than understanding the difference of being pragmatic in thinking. Yes I am old, but with age comes wisdom. While you possess youthfulness you instead have shit for brains.

The first reports were that Israelis accidentally stepped on some old cluster bombs they left in the South after the 2006 war. I knew there was something very fishy about that report and about the entire incident in general. Great and insightful piece Ibrahim.

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