Israel 'faked casualties' after Hezbollah strike, Israeli media claims
The Israeli military faked casualties during an exchange of fire with Hezbollah over the weekend, media claimed on Monday.
The Lebanese militant group fired two or three anti-tank missiles at a battalion headquarters and military ambulance over the border in Israel on Sunday, striking both, in response to a Israeli strike on the group's troops in Syria that killed two militants.
Hezbollah said it had killed and wounded the Israeli troops inside the destroyed military vehicle.
But Israeli media on Monday claimed that the Israeli soldiers faked those casualties in an attempt to briefly trick the militant group into believing it had inflicted damage on Israel.
Television stations had broadcast images on Sunday showing soldiers unloading what appeared to be a wounded comrade who had been evacuated from a helicopter.
Later that day, the Israeli military claimed there had been no casualties in the attack, which saw Israeli launch around 100 artillery shells in response.
According to Israeli media claims, the army's aim was to allow Hezbollah to claim victory until the situation had calmed down.
Hezbollah, however, released its own footage of the incident through its Al-Manar TV, which showed the IDF vehicle exploding.
Skeptics claim that Israel is attempting to obfuscate any potential casualties from the incident in a show of strength against the militant group.
Israel found itself the target of mockery in Lebanon last week after a photo surfaced of what appeared to be an Israeli armoured vehicle manned by a dummy at the Lebanon-Israel border.
Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah said Monday that the trading of fire signalled a new development between the two enemies, threatening attacks deep inside Israel.
"In the past, when we were attacked, we responded in the Shebaa Farms," a disputed area along the Lebanon-Israel ceasefire line, he said.
"But yesterday, the response was across the frontier," within Israel's internationally recognised borders, crossing what he said Israel considers a red line.
Today, Nasrallah said, "there are no more red lines".
The Hezbollah leader said the "first phase" of the response to last week's Israeli attacks on Syria and Lebanon had ended.
But he said his group would target Israeli drones over Lebanese air space.
Hezbollah, which has grown into Iran's most powerful regional proxy, wields huge influence in Lebanese politics and its military might is said to outstrip that of the state.
Israel's military capabilities, which include cutting-edge technology and a fleet of the world's most advanced fighter jets, are vastly superior.
But reports that Hezbollah is acquiring precision-guided missiles with Iran's help have raised alarm across the border.
Israel has carried out hundreds of strikes against what it says are Iranian and Hezbollah sites in neighbouring Syria since the civil war began there in 2011.