BEIRUT

Lebanon News

Rockets fired from south Lebanon at Israel

UNIFIL soldiers arrive at the site where rockets were launched into Israel, on the outskirts of Tyre in Beirut, Thursday, Aug. 22, 2013. (The Daily Star/Stringer)

BEIRUT: Two of four rockets fired from south Lebanon fell into Israel Thursday, Lebanese security sources said, and Israeli media said one projectile was shot down by the “Iron Dome” defense system.

No casualties have been reported.

The Lebanese Army confirmed the attack in a statement, saying four Katyusha rockets were fired from Tyre, south Lebanon, into Israel at 4:50 p.m.

It added that four wooden launching pads were discovered on the outskirts of Hosh village.

The Army and the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon have launched a probe into the incident.

The sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said two pairs of rockets aimed at Israel were fired from the Batoulieh valley near the Palestinian refugee camp of Rashidieh, southeast of Lebanon’s Tyre.

One pair of rockets shot past the border into Israel while the other fell in the border village of Alma in Lebanon, one source said.

Lebanon’s National News Agency said two Israeli Unmanned Aerial Vehicles flew at low altitudes over Tyre soon after the rockets were fired.

UNIFIL members inspected the launch sites, which were cordoned off by Lebanese authorities.

Hezbollah MP Hasan Fadlallah said his party was sticking to its policy regarding attacks against Israel.

“We do not condemn nor do we support any attack on our Israeli enemy,” Fadlallah told LBCI during an interview with television host Marcel Ghanem.

Fadlallah also said Hezbollah did not know the party responsible for the attack.

UNIFIL spokeswoman Antonette Miday said peacekeepers were still in the phase of analysis regarding the rocket attack, adding that the U.N. force would contact both the Lebanese and the Israeli sides to restore calm.

UNIFIL commander Maj. Gen Paolo Serra described the incident, which occurred within the force's area of operations, as a “serious violation of resolution 1701” and one that endangered the local civilian population.

“It also shows that there are people who would like to disturb the quiet in this area and put at risk the gains achieved by the [Lebanese Army] and UNIFIL during the past years,” he said, according to a statement from UNIFIL.

“I strongly condemn this violation. This action will not deter UNIFIL from our mission, which is carried out with the [Lebanese Army], and will strengthen our resolve to do everything within our capacity to ensure that the present calm remains,” he added.

According the statement, Serra contacted senior commanders of the Lebanese and Israeli militaries.

“He urged them to exercise maximum restraint, to cooperate with UNIFIL in order to prevent an escalation, which is not in the interest of the parties, and to ensure that the incident remains isolated,” the statement said.

“The parties confirmed their interest in keeping the situation under control and pledged to cooperate and work closely with UNIFIL towards this end,” it added.

The Israeli Army said preliminary information indicated that three or four rockets were launched from south Lebanon and that its "Iron Dome" had downed one of the projectiles between the Israeli coastal towns of Acre and Nahariya, according to Reuters news agency.

"The remaining rockets fell outside of Israeli territory," the military said in a statement.

President Michel Sleiman condemned the rocket fire from south Lebanon, describing the incident as a violation of UNSCR 1701 and Lebanon's sovereignty.

According to his office, the Lebanese president also asked relevant agencies to apprehend the perpetrators behind the attack and refer them to the judiciary.

Caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati, for his part, said his resigned government condemned the attack, describing it as a “blatant violation” of UNSCR 1701.

Mikati's office quoted him as saying that the incident was a clear attempt to destabilize the southern region, adding that UNIFIL and the Army were working on maintaining stability in border areas.

Although no group claimed responsibility for the attack, a spokesperson for the Israeli Army suspected “international jihadist movement” as the most likely party, according to Israel’s Ynetnews.

Speaking to The Daily Star, residents living near the border in Lebanon’s Hosh denied Israel had retaliated to the attack as reported by some media outlets.

Hours after the attack, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned of retaliation, saying in a televised address: "Anyone who harms us, or tries to harm us, should know -- we will strike them."

The last rocket attack from Lebanon into Israel was in May.

The rocket fire comes more than two weeks after a blast wounded four Israeli soldiers in Lebanon off the border town of Labbouneh. Hezbollah has claimed responsibility for the blast. – With Reuters.

 

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