Photo Credit: Basel Awidat / Flash 90

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister / Alternate Prime Minister Benny Gantz warned Monday night at a news briefing in Ramat Gan that Iran’s proxy in Lebanon is “playing with fire.”

The two leaders met with journalists following a discussions with security and defense brass at the Kirya IDF Headquarters, which also houses the Defense Ministry, in Ramat Gan.

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The meeting came after an attempted infiltration into Israel from Lebanon across the northern border by a Hezbollah terrorist cell.

IDF Gun Battle on Lebanon Border with Hezbollah

The IDF forced the cell back over the border and into Lebanon from Israel, opening fire at a cell comprised of three to five operatives in the Har Dov area of Sheba Farms, near the Syrian border, according to the IDF.

Hezbollah said in a statement issued from Lebanon in response, “There was no shooting from our side; only one side opened fire, and that was the frightened, fearful and stressed enemy… Our response to the killing of Ali Kamel Mohsin, who was killed in an Israeli attack in the Damascus airport area, will definitely come, and the Zionists will just have to wait for their punishment for their crimes.”

Unfazed by the denial, Netanyahu told reporters Monday night: “Hezbollah is playing with fire; any attack will be met with force… Hezbollah and Lebanon bear full responsibility” for any attacks emanating from Lebanon, he warned.

“Israel will continue to take action against Iran’s efforts to entrench militarily in our region. Nasrallah is embroiling Lebanon because of Iran. Today, a Hezbollah cell infiltrated into Israeli territory. Thanks to the successful operational deployment of forces on the ground by its commanders, the IDF thwarted this attempt.

“We view the effort to infiltrate into our territory with utmost gravity. Hezbollah and Lebanon bear full responsibility for this incident and for any attack against the State of Israel emanating from Lebanese territory,” Netanyahu said.

“Hezbollah needs to understand that it is playing with fire. Any attack against us will be met with great strength. Nasrallah already made a major mistake in underestimating Israel’s determination to defend itself and Lebanon paid a heavy price for this. I suggest that he not repeat this mistake.”

Gantz said Israel “is more determined than ever to prevent harm to its sovereignty and its soldiers, and certainly its citizens.

“IDF soldiers and commanders responded professionally and accurately and prevented a severe incident that could have cost human lives,” he continued.

“Anyone who dares to test the IDF’s might endangers himself and the country from which he operates.”

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Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for Babble.com, Chabad.org and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.