Explosive Device Detonates Near Israeli Forces on Lebanon Border

Hezbollah claims responsibility for blast; Israeli authorities tell residents in the area to remain home.

IDF forces near the Lebanon border, January 4, 2016.Gil Eliahu

An explosive device detonated near two Israel Defense Forces vehicles on Monday, in the northern area of Har Dov along the border with Lebanon. 

The explosive device was detonated near two Caterpillar D-9 bulldozers. A senior IDF officer said the army did not know of any casualties at this stage.

Hezbollah issued a statement claiming credit for the explosion. According to the statement, the "Samir Kuntar cell" had detonated the bomb near Shebaa Farms and the Lebanon-Israel border, targeting an Israeli patrol vehicle.

At first, local residents were ordered to remain in their homes and students were evacuated from schools in the area. After an hour they were allowed to return to regular activities. 

Explosive device detonates on Israel-Lebanon border.

Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon was briefed on the situation during a meeting at the Kirya with IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eitzenkot, Maj. Gen. Herzi Halevi, Maj. Gen Nitzan Alon and other senior officers.

Initial reports said that an explosive device was detonated at 3:15 P.M. local time. The Israeli army responded with artillery fire.

A high-ranking Israeli commander said the explosive device was relatively large, and estimated it was detonated by Hezbollah. He said the incident is not over and that the military suspects more explosive devices have been placed in the area. 

Defense officials in Lebanon said about 30 artillery shells were fired from Israel into Lebanese territory. According to Lebanese media reports, most of the fire occured in the Shebaa Farms area.  

There were no casualties on the Lebanese side, Lebanese reports added. The Lebanese army declared high alert.

The sounds of large aerial activity could be heard near the scene.

In recent weeks, since the attack that killed prominent militant Samir Kuntar — which foreign sources attribute to Israel — Israeli forces have been on high alert along the border.

Last week, the leader of Lebanon's Hezbollah group said that Israel miscalculated by killing Kuntar in Syria, saying that retaliation for his death was inevitable.

IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot said later that Israel's enemies will face "severe consequence" if they threaten its security.