Cleared for publication: An IDF officer was killed early Saturday during a commando unit operation in the east Lebanon town of Baalbek; another officer sustained serious injuries in the operation, while a third was lightly wounded.
The officer has been identified as Lieutenant Colonel Emanuel Morano, 35, of Talmit.
The IDF Spokesperson’s Office confirmed that a special army force operated in Lebanon to prevent the smuggling of weapons from Iran and Syria to Hizbullah.
“The operation does not constitute a breach of the ceasefire, as the IDF maintains its right to prevent the smuggling of arms to Hizbullah,” a security source said, adding that the operation’s goals were achieved.
Earlier Hizbullah said its guerrillas foiled an Israeli commando raid west of Baalbek deep inside Lebanon. Hizbullah TV reported of
Lebanese officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to release information to the media, said the Israelis were on their way to attack an office of senior Hizbullah official Sheikh Mohammed Yazbek in Boudai.
Hizbullah’s Al-Manar TV said the Israeli commando force landed before dawn and was driving into Boudai, when it was intercepted by guerrillas, who forced it to retreat under the cover of warplanes, which staged mock raids.
Lebanese security sources said three Hizbullah members were killed in the incident.
The provincial government official, Bekaa Valley Gov. Antoine Suleiman, confirmed an Israeli troop landing.
He told the privately owned Voice of Lebanon radio station that the landing party brought with it two vehicles that were later withdrawn after clashes.
A senior Hizbullah representative in the Lebanese parliament, Muhammad Hiader, said following the reports that Israel has breached the ceasefire agreement.
“The operation was carried out perhaps to cover up the enemy’s failures and is a sign of its distress,” he said. “Hizbullah will not necessarily remain committee to the ceasefire, as this is a breach of UN Resolution 1701, and Hizbullah maintains the right to respond.”
During the war the IDF conducted a number of similar raids. “Apart from the raid on Baalbek during the war, dozens more were carried out, also from the sea,” a senior Navy officer told Ynet last week.
Earlier on Saturday it was reported that the Air Force attacked several targets in east Lebanon. AFP reported quoted Lebanese police sources as saying that IDF warplanes launched four missiles toward targets in Baalbek. Al-Jazeera reported of warplanes flying over the area but did not report of any attacks.
Baalbek birthplace of Hizbullah
On Friday night it was reported that Israeli drones and warplanes were crisscrossing the skies above Lebanon's eastern Bekaa Valley, near the Hizbullah stronghold of Baalbek.
Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora phoned UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan to protest "the continued violation of our Lebanese airspace by Israeli aircraft."
The IDF said it had not attacked Lebanon since the ceasefire went into force. The IDF Spokesperson Unit reported that some Israeli ground forces are still inside Lebanon, but that this did not constitute a violation of the ceasefire agreement.
After the ceasefire came into effect, senior officers said that the air force will continue to carry out sorties in order to ensure the safety of the forces on the ground, but that no strikes will be launched.
On Aug. 2, Israeli commandos targeted the Iranian-funded, Hizbullah-run Dar al-Hikma Hospital. The commando assault and Israeli strikes throughout the region around the ancient town killed 16 people, according to Lebanese police. Baalbek residents said four people were taken away and none were Hizbullah fighters.
Israel said then that the building its commandos entered was not a hospital but a Hizbullah headquarters. The Israelis said they captured five guerrilla fighters and killed 10 others before withdrawing.