SIDON, Lebanon: Forces along the Lebanese-Israeli border beefed up patrols and security measures Saturday after a rocket attack raised tensions on the relatively calm frontier.
The Lebanese Army and the U.N. Interim Force in Lebanon carried out patrols throughout Friday night and in the morning hours of Saturday in the eastern sector of the border, where one of six rockets struck inside Israel without causing casualties.
UNIFIL helicopters were seen flying near Naqoura over the Blue Line, the de facto border between the two states, while Lebanese farmers went back to work and checked on their crops.
Hours after one rocket hit Israel, the Lebanese military discovered found traces of six rockets in the Mari area in the Hasbaya region, some 2 kilometers from the Blue Line. Military experts defused two of them while security sources said three rockets had been fired but only one landed in Israel, which retaliated with 25 artillery shells into Kfar Shuba.
Lebanese security forces arrested two people, including one who said to be behind the operation and belonged to Al-Jamaa al-Islamiya. Previous rocket attacks on Israel from south Lebanon have rarely resulted in arrests being made.
“[Hussein Izzat] Atwe is a member of Al-Jamaa al-Islamiya who acted of his own volition in sympathy with the people of Palestine," a source from the group told The Daily Star Friday.
The source highlighted that while Atwe did not refer to Al-Jamaa’s top command, the Islamist group considered Friday morning’s firing of rockets on Israel “an honorable act of resistance.”
The military is said to be on a manhunt for two Palestinians who Atwe said assisted him in the rocket attack.
On the Israeli border, dozens of soldiers deployed across from the southern village of Kfar Kila, backed by five Hummers equipped with automatic machine guns near Metula.
Some 15 soldiers backed by armored vehicles were seen checking the wired barricade and other surveillance and technical equipment set up along the border. Trucks removed rocks near a section of the border and leveled the land.
Overnight Friday, an Israeli drone dropped flare bombs along the border from Naqoura all the way to Alma Shaab.
In a statement Saturday, the Lebanese Army said an Israeli reconnaissance plane violated Lebanese airspace, entering at around 12:10 a.m. above Kfar Kila and conducting aerial maneuvers over the southern region. The drone left eight hours later above Alma Shaab.