IDF Operations Branch Head Major General Gadi Eisenkot confirmed Monday night during a press briefing that five IDF soldiers were wounded during fighting in southern Lebanon by shots fired by an IAF helicopter gunship. Only through a miracle was no one killed in the incident, he said.
The soldiers, members of Golani’s Orev company were lightly to moderately wounded.
“There are five casualties due to friendly fire from a helicopter. No one was killed but there are wounded,” Eisenkot said. “We will learn the lessons from the incident."
The incident occurred when IDF ground forces were fighting Hizbullah fighters with Air Force backup in a southern Lebanese village. Terrorists were identified on the ground and the helicopter gunships opened fire, accidentally hitting Israeli soldiers.
Eisenkot: Combat progressing
Eisenkot noted there were additional casualties in the fighting near Bint Jbeil, a southern Lebanese village considered to be the Hizbullah capital.
Regarding the progress of the operations, Eisenkot said: “The fighting is concentrated on Bint Jbeil, where 100-200 terrorists are entrenched. Golani battalions are battling alongside tank and engineering units. The aerial activity is effective."
"The ground combat is taking place on a number of dimensions – destroying Hizbullah posts built along the border and distancing flat-trajectory rocket fire from border communities. Operations in Bint Jbeil and other villages are delineated in space and time – we come, gain control, conquer, then withdraw within a limited time and move on to the next destination," he said.
The general noted during the briefing that Syria and Iran were transferring weapons to Hizbullah. “Anti-tank missiles called Metis from the Syrian army were used against us. The combat is not simple but our forces are working intensively,” he said.
'Significant blow to Hizbullah'
The navy was also continuing to partake in the combat, Eisenkot said. “There is a sea blockade and targets along the shore are being taken out. The aim is to hit the maximum number of rocket launchers and minimize hits to the home front,” he said.
“The targets hit are a significant blow to Hizbullah. In our assessment, Hizbullah was significantly hit both strategically and tactically. There were successes in hitting short- and long-range rocket launchers,” he said.
As for Hizbullah captives, he noted, “In combat in built-up areas there are both terrorists and civilians. Whoever is captured will be interrogated. If he is revealed to be an innocent civilian he will be released. Right now we have two prisoners in custody who are being interrogated. If they are civilians, they will be released.”