IDF struggles to neutralize Hezbollah bombs
The Israel Defense Forces yesterday began clearing eight bombs laid by Hezbollah along the Lebanese border, a day after they were discovered by an alert IDF tracker.
The process proved more difficult than anticipated, and by nightfall, only three of the bombs had been dealt with. At first, sappers tried to detonate the bombs electronically, but that failed. Sniffer dogs and robots, therefore, had to be sent in to determine the bombs' exact location so that IDF snipers could set them off by firing at them. Even so, it took 20 minutes of steady firing to get three of the bombs to explode, and the other five never went off at all - apparently because the sniper fire had severed the cables connecting them to their fellows. Additional fire at the remaining bombs failed to set them off.
Though no one was injured by the controlled explosions, the blasts caused heavy damage to the border fence as well as panic in nearby Israeli towns.
Colonel Itai Virov, commander of the eastern border brigade, said that the bombs did not appear to be part of a Hezbollah kidnap attempt - though this possibility could not be ruled out. "This is a very sophisticated, high-grade and well-concealed bomb nest that was meant to cause damage to forces patrolling the fence and to those who would come to their rescue [afterward]," he said. "It would probably have been very deadly to both infantry and armored cars."
The IDF does not know when the bombs were laid, since that road is not patrolled at regular intervals. The assumption, however, is that they were planted during the last few days.
The army is at a loss for explanations as to why the northern border is suddenly heating up just as the prisoner swap with Hezbollah seems to be gaining steam. It is particularly worrisome, IDF sources said, that Hezbollah seems to be expanding its anti-Israel operations beyond the Har Dov region, to which it had until now largely confined them. The bombs were not in the Har Dov area.