Military Capabilities

IDF fakes casualties in de-escalation tactic

04 September 2019

Israeli soldiers unload what appeared to be a casualty at Ramban hospital in Haifa after a Hizbullah missile attack on the Lebanese border. The IDF subsequently announced the attack caused no casualties. Source: Gil Nehushtan/AFP/Getty Images

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) have confirmed that the two soldiers evacuated from the scene of an anti-tank missile attack on 1 September were not wounded despite images claiming otherwise.

This suggests that it may have been a tactic to convince Hizbullah that it had caused casualties.

The IDF allowed news crews to broadcast footage of seemingly badly injured soldiers being unloaded from Black Hawk helicopters at Haifa hospital.

This seemed to dovetail with Hizbullah’s claim that it had carried out a cross-border missile attack near Avivim that had inflicted casualties but had not interfered with the subsequent medical evacuation operation.

The Lebanese group released a video of the attack the following day, saying it showed two missiles hitting the vehicle.

However, the IDF announced later on 1 September that no casualties were inflicted in an attack that it said targeted a military ambulance.

The IDF confirmed that at least one missile was also fired at the battalion headquarters in Avivim, causing damage but no casualties.

“The bottom line is that Hizbullah executed the attack,” said IDF spokesman Lieutenant General Jonathan Conricus. “However, it failed to cause casualties. On the one hand, it attacked, on the other, it failed and that is a somewhat desired outcome.”

The IDF declined to comment on the evacuation of seemingly wounded soldiers, but the Israeli media cited defence sources as saying that it was a pre-prepared plan to convince Hizbullah that it had inflicted casualties and conclude that it had successfully avenged the two fighters killed in an Israeli airstrike on 24 August.

In the wake of the airstrike, Hizbullah noted that the IDF had deployed mannequins dressed as soldiers along the border in an apparent effort to attract fire that would not cause casualties. It said it was not fooled by this tactic.

Want to read more? For analysis on this article and access to all our insight content, please enquire about our subscription options at

(324 of 417 words)