Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon on Thursday confirmed that he had received a message passed by Hezbollah via the United Nations that the Lebanese terrorist militia was not interested in further escalation of violence along the Israel-Lebanon border.
The message was transmitted a day after a cross-border Hezbollah attack left two Israeli soldiers dead and another seven wounded. The group said the attack was in response to last week’s targeted killing in Syria of a top Hezbollah field commander by an Israeli gunship.
By mid-day Wednesday, the situation seemed primed for a major explosion. But Hezbollah reportedly came under intense pressure from the Lebanese media and government, which were not at all keen for a repeat of the 2006 Israel-Lebanon war.
Ya’alon reiterated that Israel, too, would like to avoid another full-scale war, but Jerusalem has cautioned that it will not tolerate such overt threats to its security.
By Thursday morning, quiet had returned to the border region, but Israeli forces remained deployed on highest alert. The army also resumed drilling activities aimed at discovering possible Hezbollah terror tunnels running under the border.
Meanwhile, the two fatalities from Wednesday’s attack, Major Yochai Kalangel (25) and Staff Sergeant Dor Chaim Nini (20), were laid to rest by hundreds of mourning family and friends.
Kalangel, a decorate and much-beloved company commander, leaves behind a wife and one-year-old daughter. Nini was still in the midst of the mandatory military service all young Israelis must do following high school. Nini’s mother, Sima, was quoted as saying the following at her son’s funeral: “My beloved boy. I’ve lost you. You went to the army and came back in a coffin.”
While the latest border incident is seen as concluded, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed that those responsible for taking the lives of Kalangel and Nini would yet “pay the full price.”