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Lebanon to complain to U.N. over Israel attack
PFLP-GC fighters near the site of the blast.
PFLP-GC fighters near the site of the blast.
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BEIRUT: The Lebanese government will file a complaint with the U.N. over an Israeli airstrike south of Beirut that targeted the military base of a Palestinian armed group, the president’s office said Friday.

“President Michel Sleiman strongly denounced the Israeli [airstrike] on Naameh and tasked caretaker Foreign Minister [Adnan Mansour] with filing a complaint over the attack to the United Nations Security Council,” a Baabda Palace statement said.

The Israeli air force struck early Friday at a valley in Naameh, south of Beirut, near a base belonging to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command, one day after rockets from south Lebanon were fired at the Jewish state.

A Daily Star correspondent at the scene said the missile struck just meters from the entrance to one of a series of underground tunnels belonging to the PFLP-GC in the valley.

The PFLP-GC is headed by Ahmad Jibril, a staunch supporter of Syria’s President Bashar Assad.

The Lebanese Army said an Israeli jet violated Lebanon’s sovereignty at 4 a.m., firing a missile at sea level “in the direction of tunnels in Naameh where a base belonging to a Palestinian organization is located, leaving a five-meter deep crevice without any loss of life or material damage.”

An Israeli army statement said the air force acted in response to a barrage of four rockets launched at northern Israel Thursday.

Israeli premier Benjamin Netanyahu had warned in a speech that the Israeli military would retaliate for the rockets.

Ban Ki-moon, the secretary-general of the United Nations, said in a statement he was “greatly concerned” over the firing of rockets at Israel – a “clear violation” of Security Council Resolution 1701 of 2006. It also noted “the retaliatory strikes” by Israel against the Naameh site and condemned “any and all violations of resolution 1701,” urging all parties to exercise restraint and cooperate with UNIFIL to prevent any escalation.

Two of the four rockets fired Thursday afternoon from an area near Tyre crashed into Israel, while the Israeli military said one projectile was shot down. No casualties were reported.

The attack, the second of its kind since May, was claimed by the Abdullah Azzam Brigades, an Al-Qaeda-linked group that claimed responsibility for similar rocket fire on Israel in 2009 and 2011. A PFLP-GC source denied his group was behind the attack.

The U.N. Interim Force in Lebanon called on both Israel and Lebanon to exercise “maximum restraint.”

“After receiving the news about the airstrike, I was in contact with the [Israeli army] commander, stressing upon them to cease any offensive military operation,” said UNIFIL Commander Maj. Gen. Paolo Serra.

“I also called on the [Lebanese Army] commander, emphasizing the need to exercise maximum restraint to avoid undesired consequences.”

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on August 24, 2013, on page 2.
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