MARI, Lebanon: Calm returned to south Lebanon Friday afternoon, as authorities arrested two suspects in the early morning rocket attack on Israel that spurred retaliatory shelling of a Lebanese village.
The Internal Security Forces detained a suspect allegedly behind the rocket fire into Israel, security sources said.
Hussein Izzat Atwe from the Hasbaya village of Hebbarieh was arrested in Al-Bire Hospital in the Bekaa Valley, where he was receiving treatment for severe burns.
Hours before Atwe's arrest, the ISF Information Branch apprehended a Lebanese man, identified only as Abu Qais, in Hebbarieh after they found blood stains in his car, which sparked a search of area hospitals for suspects.
The National News Agency reported that Atwe confessed to belonging to extremist groups and that two Palestinian men were with him when he launched the rockets.
Authorities are searching for the two suspects.
The sources told The Daily Star that Lebanese Army Intelligence had found traces of six rockets in the Mari area in the Hasbaya region, some 2 kilometers from the Blue Line, the de facto border between the two states.
They said the Army defused two 107mm Grad rockets that were prepared to be fired toward Israel following a search for launch pads.
The sources confirmed that three rockets, which have a range of 10 kilometers, had been fired from the Mari area near Majidieh between 1 a.m. and 6 a.m. Only one projectile was reported to have hit Israel, according to the Israeli army.
The Lebanese security sources said a sixth rocket failed to fire and exploded in place, wounding the person handling it. They said traces of blood and a ripped shoe were found at the site.
Friday afternoon, U.N. Interim Force in Lebanon spokesman Andrea Tenenti said UNIFIL Commander Maj. Gen. Paolo Serra and the mission’s leadership were “in close contact with the parties urging maximum restraint in order to prevent any escalation of the situation.”
He said that in coordination with the Lebanese Army, UNIFIL had reinforced its presence on the ground and intensified patrols to prevent any further incidents.
Tenenti said UNIFIL was conducting a field investigation to “determine the facts and circumstances of the incident.”
Serra said the incident was a “serious” violation of the U.N. Security Council resolution 1701 and “is clearly directed at undermining stability in the area.”
After the predawn rocket fire, the Lebanese Army reported that at least 25 artillery shells from Israel hit the outskirts of Kfar Shuba with no reports of casualties.
The Israeli army confirmed that a projectile fired from Lebanon had struck northern Israel early Friday, causing no damage.
Israeli military spokesman Lt. Col. Peter Lerner told the Associated Press that it was unclear whether the new front was "symbolic or something more substantial."
Lerner said the military responded with artillery fire toward the source in Lebanon.
The border between the two states has seen a period of relative calm since the 2006 war between Hezbollah and Israel, although there were two separate rocket attacks from Lebanon on Israel last year, with one claimed by the Al-Qaeda-linked Abdullah Azzam Brigades.
The rocket attack from south Lebanon came as Israel pressed ahead in the fourth day of a major offensive against Hamas in the Gaza Strip.
Prime Minister Tammam Salam telephoned Defense Minister Samir Moqbel to inquire into the Israeli attack on Lebanon and the developments in the south.