The unnamed senior security official said that Israeli warplanes hit a convoy carrying surface-to-surface missiles into Lebanon.
The specifics of the missiles targeted by the strike were not immediately available, but the Israeli official indicated to TIME they could carry warheads heavier and more dangerous than almost all of the tens of thousands of missiles and rockets Hezbollah now has pointed toward Israel.
Earlier airstrikes, which have also been attributed to Israel, targeted four categories of armaments Israeli officials warned it would destroy if detected moving into Hezbollah’s home territory of Lebanon from Syria, noted TIME.
Earlier on Tuesday, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu did not deny that Israel had carried out an air raid against Hezbollah targets on the Syrian-Lebanese border, but did not offer express confirmation either.
“We are doing everything that is necessary in order to defend the security of Israel,” Netanyahu said at a joint news conference in Jerusalem with visiting German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
“We will not say what we’re doing or what we’re not doing” to maintain Israel’s security, he said in reply to a question on the raid.
Israel has never confirmed nor denied involvement in any of the previous airstrikes in Syria, but former National Security Adviser Yaakov Amidror told the Tablet magazine recently that it was no accident that some Syrian shipments of advanced missile systems to Hezbollah did not make it to their destination.
Israel and Hezbollah fought a month long war in 2006 that ended in a stalemate. Israeli officials believe Hezbollah has restocked its arsenal with tens of thousands of rockets and missiles, some of which are capable of striking virtually anywhere in the Jewish state.
Although Israel has refrained from taking sides in the Syrian civil war, Netanyahu has repeatedly vowed to take action to prevent Hezbollah from obtaining “game changing” weapons from its ally Syria. Past Israeli airstrikes are believed to have targeted Russian-made anti-aircraft missiles and guided missiles from Iran. Israel has never confirmed the airstrikes.
Lebanon’s National News Agency said the air raids took place near Nabi Sheet, a remote village in Lebanon’s eastern Bekaa Valley. The agency did not say what was targeted in the attack. The porous border is frequently used by fighters and smugglers to move people and weapons between Lebanon and Syria. Hezbollah has a strong presence in the area. Arab media reports said Hezbollah had suffered casualties, though neither the group nor the Lebanese military confirmed an airstrike had actually taken place.
Earlier this week, Israel’s military chief, Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz, accused Iran, a key backer of Syria and Hezbollah, of “handing out torches to the pyromaniacs.” He spoke during a tour of the Golan Heights, a strategic area near Syria and Lebanon.
“Right now we’re in the Golan Heights and it seems quiet and peaceful. I suggest that everyone keeps in mind that underneath this quiet, a storm is brewing – day, night and in every setting,” Gantz said. “We have very advanced abilities to deal with the security challenges in this region. This comes alongside improving response at the operational level, and acting speedily in every sphere: air, sea, ground, intelligence and all the support systems that work with them.”
Eyal Ben-Reuven, a former deputy head of the Israeli military’s Northern Command, said he doubted Hezbollah would retaliate since it had its hands full fighting the Syrian civil war. Having said that, he said Hezbollah was still a dangerous foe and it was imperative that Israel maintain its ability to operate freely in the skies and in the seas and block any more advanced weapons from reaching Hezbollah.
“Israel has always stayed as the main objective for Hezbollah and Iran,” he said. “A terror organization gets these kinds of capabilities not for deterrence, but for acts. This is the difference between states and organization. This is something that we have to keep in our hands to prevent this kind of transfer of game-changing weapons,” he said.