Lebanese militant group Hezbollah claimed responsibility (WSJ) for a bomb attack near an Israeli military convoy on the country's disputed border with Lebanon. The Israeli military said it responded by shelling targets (Al Jazeera) in southern Lebanon, although no casualties were reported. The incident appeared to be retaliation for the recent death of Samir Kantar, one of Hezbollah’s most prominent operatives (FT), who died in Syria during an airstrike on December 19. Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah had accused Israel of killing the operative and vowed to avenge his death.
“What happens next in large measure depends upon Iran. Israel and Hezbollah have had several rounds of tension over the past several years, mostly as a byproduct of the Syrian civil war. The international media have attributed a long series of operations on Syrian territory to Israel, mostly involving aerial bombardment of convoys with weapons due to be smuggled to Hezbollah in Lebanon. In only a few of the cases (including some in involving operatives from Kuntar’s organization) terrorist cells acting under the direction of Iran and Hezbollah in the Syrian Golan Heights were targeted,” writes Amos Harel forHaaretz.
“Israel is taking advantage of Hezbollah's weakness and has hit directly whenever it could reach symbolic targets that would hurt the group's morale. This goes to show that Hezbollah's intervention in the Syrian crisis - and by extension Iran's -have rendered the group vulnerable and exposed both politically and militarily. Instead of analysing Kantar's assassination from a strictly operational angle, it is therefore more useful to examine it as an outcome of grand geostrategic battles over Syria,” writes Lina Khatib for Al Jazeera.
“His killing follows a similar pattern to others allegedly carried out - but not officially claimed - by Israel. Israel has often been criticized by the international community for what's been described as a policy of targeted killings, with critics saying it amounts to the country executing criminals without a trial. Israeli military analysts state that there is no official policy of killing terrorists or suspected terrorists in a systematic manner,” writes Dana Regev for DW.
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