MARJAYOUN: The Lebanese Army found four rocket launch pads used in the attack on Israel Sunday hours after the Israeli military fired a barrage of shells across the border in retaliation, a security source told The Daily Star.
The Army discovered the launch pads in Khreybet in south Lebanon where two rockets were fired into Israel earlier in the day, the source added.
In a statement, the military said two rockets were launched into Israel from Khreybet in Hasbaya at 7:02 a.m. and that Israel responded with 32 shells to the source of fire between 7:41 and 8:04 a.m.
UNIFIL and the Lebanese Army arrived to the site of the shell attack where a number of Syrian refugees and Lebanese farmers reside, a security source told The Daily Star.
The Israeli military said Lebanese rockets landed near the town of Kiryat Shmona and that it responded with artillery fire, Reuters reported. The attack did not cause material damage or loss of life.
U.N. Interim Force in Lebanon confirmed the two attacks, saying the peacekeeping force’s Commander Maj. Gen. Paolo Serra was immediately in contact with both sides and urged the parties to exercise maximum restraint in order to prevent any escalation of the situation.
“This is a very serious incident in violation of U.N. Security Council resolution 1701 and is clearly directed at undermining stability in the area,” Serra was quoted as saying in a statement.
“UNIFIL’s first imperative is to ensure that there is no further escalation of the situation and I have been assured by the parties of their full cooperation with UNIFIL in this effort and of their continued commitment to the cessation of hostilities,” he added.
Serra also said the Lebanese Army and UNIFIL personnel were trying to locate the rocket launching site and that the peacekeepers have intensified patrols across the area of operations to prevent any further incidents.
“It is of paramount importance to identify and apprehend the perpetrators of this attack and we will spare no efforts to this end working in cooperation with the Lebanese [Army],” he said.
In August, a similar rocket attack from Lebanese territory into Israel was also met with swift retaliation from the Israeli air force. The Lebanese Army arrested two suspects who confessed they had transferred the rockets from the West Bekaa village of Gaza and delivered them to a man in the southern town of Tyre.
Tensions also ran high on the Lebanese-Israeli border when a Lebanese soldier shot and killed an Israeli soldier on Dec. 15. The Army said the incident was an individual act.
Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon warned the Lebanese government of even tougher reprisals in response to similar rocket attacks.
"We will not tolerate fire from Lebanon on our territory... We consider the Lebanese government and army responsible for this morning's fire," Yaalon said in a statement, according to Agence France Presse.
"The Israeli army responded by firing a large number of shells at the area from where the rockets were fired. If necessary, it will be even tougher,” he added.
"I would never advise anyone to test our patience and our determination to defend the security of the Israeli people," the minister said. -With AFP, Reuters