Hezbollah has released the first ever video footage of the attack on an armoured Israeli patrol which started the 2006 Lebanon war.
The footage of the attack, when three soldiers were killed and two others abducted, appears to show half a dozen militants emerging from the undergrowth to fire at two Hummer vehicles driving round a bend on the Israeli border road. Helmeted and armed with a rocket launcher, they approach the vehicles as smoke billows from the vicinity.
The clip, originally aired by the Lebanese channel al Midian, which is thought to have links with Hezbollah, stops at this point. As a result it does not show the capture of the two Israeli soldiers Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser, or whether they were still alive when they were taken across the border into Lebanon. It was the abduction of the two soldiers which led the then Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to launch the bitterly controversial 34-day war that resulted in an estimated 1,300 Lebanese and 165 Israeli casualties – of which 121 were soldiers.
Analysts in Israel and Lebanon suggested the timing of the video release had less to do with heightened tensions between the Shia Muslim guerilla group and Israel, than with the overshadowing of Lebanese domestic politics by the Syrian civil war. Hezbollah has come under increasing pressure ahead of Lebanese elections scheduled for next summer from anti-Syria politicians denouncing the group's broad support for – and partial dependence on – the Syrian regime during its violent suppression of the 16 month uprising.
Hezbollah may have thought it was an opportune time to release propaganda purporting to show its military strength and supposed role as the defender of the Lebanese people against Israel, the analysts said.