During the recent flare-up of violence along Israel’s northern border, the IDF managed to trick Hezbollah into thinking that they injured Israeli soldiers in the attack that came in response to the recent IDF drone strike inside Lebanon.
The attack came on Sunday afternoon when Hezbollah fired a volley of anti-tank missiles at the IDF base and vehicles stationed near Avivim. Following the attack, smoke plumed from the base and vehicles and an IDF helicopter arrived and evacuated soldiers from the compound to Rambam Hospital in Haifa. Reporters and social media both showed videos of soldiers being taken from the helicopter and put into ambulances at the hospital. The charade went so far as to have the soldiers wheeled into the emergency room to have their vital signs checked by medical staff before being allowed to leave.
According to media reports coming out of Israel late Sunday evening, the IDF wanted to create a “fog” on the Lebanese side to allow Hezbollah to flaunt its achievement. Meanwhile, the IDF took the opportunity to carry out a massive assault on Hezbollah and on the cell that launched the anti-tank missiles at Israel.
Reports said that Israel hoped that by granting an “achievement” to Hezbollah the incident would end quickly and prevent deterioration to war.
A gag order was placed on the movement of the soldiers as well as anything having to do with the attack, as videos were leaked on social media. Almost an hour after the casualties were said to arrive at Rambam Hospital, an IDF spokesperson officially announced that there were no casualties among IDF soldiers.
“The IDF continues to maintain a high level of preparedness – defensive and offensive – for a wide range of scenarios. The restrictions on the civilian area have been removed, with the exception of agricultural work close to the perimeter fence.”
“Soldiers who arrived by helicopter were examined in the Rambam emergency room and released without medical treatment,” an official hospital statement said.
Prime Minister Netanyahu said: “At this moment I can announce important news – we have no casualties. No one was wounded – not even a scratch.”
Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri held telephone calls with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo as well as an adviser to French President Emmanuel Macron urging the international community to calm the situation. The U.N. peacekeeping mission in southern Lebanon, known as UNIFIL, said it was in contact with all sides and urged restraint.
U.N. spokesman Andrea Tenenti said later that “calm has returned in the area” and the U.N. peacekeeping force is maintaining its presence on the ground together with the Lebanese army.
By nightfall, the fighting appeared to have halted. But Israeli officials said troops remained on high alert.
“We are consulting about the next steps,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said. “I have ordered that we be prepared for any scenario. We will decide on the next steps pending developments.”
Hezbollah’s deputy leader, Naim Kassem, said Sunday night that the group was committed to retaliating whenever it comes under attack. “Hezbollah wants to preserve deterrence and the rules of engagement in order to prevent something worse from happening,” he said.