Three days after First Lieutenant Yiftah Shrier, 21, was killed by an anti-tank rocket in Bint Jbeil, fighters
of his unit returned to the southern Lebanese town overnight Friday.
In fierce battles that started Friday afternoon and ended in the early hours of Saturday, 20 Hizbullah terrorists were killed.
The air force provided cover for troops and targeted Hizbullah cells.
Overnight battle (Photo: AP)
Commander of Brigade 101, Lieutenant Colonel Ariel Yochanan, told Ynet that the mission was not "to settle accounts."
"This is not revenge. We were ordered to carry out a mission and we executed in the best possible way. I explained to them we are at war and sometimes there are casualties. We don't deal with revenge but with how best to protect ourselves and harm terrorists," he added.
'We saw them falling'
Eighteen soldiers were killed in fighting between the IDF and Hizbullah in Maroun al-Ras and Bint Jbeil.
In Friday's battle 30 terrorists engaged paratroopers in exchanges of fire in the western neighborhoods of Bint Jbeil.
"It started in the afternoon when two terrorists tried to approach a house in which our soldiers were present. The soldiers hit and killed them. Then the attack took off. At least seven cells of terrorists started operating in the area. Some were in open fields and others were in houses. They tried to harm our soldiers and hired anti-tank rockets, Sagger and RPG. Our forces were well prepared and gunned down cell after cell. We saw them falling," Lieutenant Colonel Yochanan added.
He said the Hizbullah cells were well organized.
'They did a professional job'
During the operation one soldier was seriously wounded. The army believes he was injured by a malfunctioning rocket he was asked to fire, but a probe has been launched to determine whether he was injured by friendly fire or by Hizbullah gunmen.
"In one occasion we identified a house that served as command post for terrorists. We found communication equipment, and managed to hit three terrorists and called in a helicopter gunship to hit the place itself," said an officer who took part in the fighting.
Soon after the battle ended soldier carried their injured comrades on stretchers for two kilometers to an improvised helicopter landing pad.
"Our fighters took part in the evacuation. They did a professional job and we were surprised by the large number of terrorists who took part in the operation but we know how to deal with them. It was a long fight and everyone exhibited a fighting spirit. I have to say I am proud of my soldiers. The mental preparation paid off and I am happy with the battle's results," Lieutenant Colonel Yochanan said.