Israel carries out airstrikes Lebanon after rocket fire
The Israeli Air Force struck southern Lebanon early Thursday morning in the fourth round of retaliatory attacks following rocket fire towards the city of Kiryat Shmona.
The strikes targeted the areas from which the rockets were fired as well as other locations where rockets had been fired in the past. The IAF also struck additional infrastructure used for terrorism, a statement released by the military said.
“IDF attacks will continue and even intensify in the face of terror attacks against the State of Israel and its citizens,” the statement read, adding that Israel holds the country of Lebanon responsible for all attacks originating from its territory.
According to Lebanon’s National News Agency, the IAF struck areas near the Litani at around 1 AM.
The airstrikes were the most severe carried out since the Second Lebanon War in 2006 and followed some 100 artillery shells that were fired by the IDF in response to the rocket fire. Last August, Israeli attack helicopters and fighter jets struck posts belonging to Hezbollah along the Lebanese border after IDF troops were fired upon near Kibbutz Menara in the Upper Galilee.
Hezbollah affiliated journalist Ali Shoeib said that one of the missiles dropped by the IAF landed 500 meters from a Lebanese Army post.
Quoting the Lebanese Army, NNA said that the IDF fired 92 shells to the areas of Wadi Hamoul, Al-Sadana, Sahel Al-Mari, Rashaya Al-Fokhar outskirts, Sahel Al-Khiam, in addition to Blat Plain in south Lebanon.
“The army conducted patrols in the region, setting up a number of checkpoints, and initiated investigations to uncover the identities of the rocket launchers,” the statement continued, adding that “the situation is being monitored in coordination with the United Nations Interim Force in South Lebanon.”
Lebanon’s President Michel Aoun called the airstrikes an "escalation," that they were a violation of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1701.
“Israel using Air Force to target Lebanese villages is the first of its kind since 2006 and indicates the presence of aggressive and escalatory intentions that coincide with the continuous threats against Lebanon and its sovereignty. What happened is a flagrant and serious violation of Security Council Resolution 1701, and a direct threat to security and stability in the south,” he said.
The IDF said it identified three launches from Lebanon earlier on Wednesday. One failed and fell inside Lebanese territory, while two others hit open areas inside Israel sparking two fires that destroyed hundreds of dunams.
Though the city of Kiryat Shmona said it had opened bomb shelters, the military said that there was no change in instructions and that residents near the border could continue with their daily routines.
It is still unclear who fired the rockets but it is believed to be the same Palestinian terrorists who’ve fired over a dozen rockets since May.
While Hezbollah has full control in south Lebanon, the Shiite terror group is not suspected to be behind any rocket fire. The group is believed to have nevertheless given tacit consent to the rocket cell to fire towards Israel.
Despite militant groups being behind the rocket fire, Israel holds Lebanon responsible, the IDF said in a statement released on its Arabic Twitter page.
“Will not allow rocket fire...no matter what and no matter the reason. The government of Lebanon bears full responsibility for any aggression emanating from its territory,” it said Wednesday.
The US State Department condemned the rocket fire towards Israel and said Washington would remain engaged with both Israel and Lebanon to "de-escalate" the situation along the border.
"We absolutely condemn the rocket attacks from armed groups, based in Lebanon, that were fired into Israel," State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters.