TYRE, Lebanon: The United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon urged the Lebanese and Israeli militaries to exercise “maximum self-restraint” and cooperate with UNIFIL to maintain calm on the border, after rockets were fired from Lebanon into Israel twice in less than 48 hours.
Three rockets fired from south Lebanon hit northern Israel, triggering retaliatory artillery fire on the Lebanese border villages of Zebqin and Qulayleh, Lebanese security sources said.
According to a UNIFIL statement, Acting Force Commander Brig. Gen. Tarundeep Kumar immediately established contact with senior commanders of the Lebanese and Israeli armies and urged them “to exercise maximum restraint, to cooperate with UNIFIL in order to prevent further escalation.”
Efforts to locate the launch pads of rockets fired at northern Israel Saturday turned out to be an arduous task with the Lebanese Army only discovering them Sunday afternoon, security sources told The Daily Star.
The sources said the Army found the launch pads in a banana orchard in the valley of Ras al-Ain, three kilometers away from the Palestinian refugee camp of Rashidieh.
The UNIFIL statement said the peacekeeping force, in coordination with the Lebanese Army, is maintaining enhanced operational presence on the ground, and has intensified patrols across the area of operations to prevent any further incidents.
“The parties have reaffirmed their commitment to the cessation of hostilities and are fully cooperating with UNIFIL in efforts to prevent any further incidents along the Blue Line,” the statement said.
UNIFIL explained that the situation in the area was calmer, adding that it has launched an investigation into the incident “that amounted to a grave violation of UN Security Council resolution 1701 and endangered human lives.”
Sirens resounded across the Israeli region of Nahariya after the rockets were fired from the valley of Qulayleh in south Lebanon. The incident came one day after rockets were fired on Israel from the southern region of Hasbaya.
Nahariya is 12 kilometers (seven miles) away from the Lebanese border.
Israel swiftly responded with artillery fire on Zebqin and Qulayleh in the Tyre region. The area houses two Palestinian refugee camps; Bass and Rashidieh.
There has been no immediate claim of responsibility for the rocket attack and Hamas issued a statement denying that its armed wing, the Ezzeddine al-Qassam Brigades, carried out Saturday’s attack.
The Israeli military said that two rockets fired from Lebanon hit northern Israel late Saturday. No casualties were reported.
On Friday, a member of Al-Jamaa Al-Islamiya fired rockets at Israel, sources from the group told The Daily Star. They said the man acted of his own volition in solidarity with the people of Gaza against the ongoing Israeli offensive.
The attack Friday morning triggered Israeli retaliatory artillery shelling of the Lebanese village of Kfar Shuba and heightened tensions on the generally calm border between the two countries.