Militants in Lebanon fired four rockets at northern Israel today, the Israeli military said, adding to the turmoil gripping the Middle East. No injuries were reported.
One rocket was intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defense system and two others landed in populated areas damaging property, the army said in an e-mailed statement.
No one claimed responsibility for the attack, which the military said was the first rocket barrage from Lebanon since November 2011. The military said it did not retaliate.
“The rockets were launched by the global jihad terror organization,” army spokesman Brigadier General Yoav Mordechai said in the statement, which added that Israel holds the Lebanese government and military responsible for the attack.
Lebanese President Michel Suleiman condemned the rocket assault and ordered his security forces to find the attackers and bring them to justice, Lebanon’s official National News Agency said. Suleiman said the attacks violated the 2006 United Nations agreement ending the monthlong war between Israel and Lebanon’s militant Shiite Muslim Hezbollah movement.
“We will act through a variety of means, to defend ourselves and to pre-empt attacks, and we will act responsibly,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a text message. “Anyone who will attack us, anyone who will try to attack us, should know we will attack him.”
The Lebanese army found launchers used to fire the rockets in the Tyre area, Lebanon’s official news agency said. Tyre is 19 kilometers (12 miles) north of Israel.
“The aim of the jihadist militants is to create chaos in the region, and provoking Israel into an attack on Lebanon, or Hezbollah, would certainly serve that aim,” said Gerald Steinberg, a political scientist at Bar Ilan University outside Tel Aviv. “Israel is unlikely to retaliate unless they have a specific operational target, such as a rocket squad.”
The UN peacekeeping force in southern Lebanon, known as UNIFIL, said in a statement that it sent a helicopter to investigate the reports of rocket fire and urged both sides’ armies to “exercise restraint” to “prevent an escalation.”
The flare-up along the border comes at a time of upheaval in the region. Egypt is reeling from the violent aftermath of President Mohamed Mursi’s ouster and more than 100,000 have been killed in Syria’s civil war, according to UN estimates. Yesterday, the Syrian opposition said in an unconfirmed report that more than 1,300 were killed in a chemical attack near Damascus.
The Israel-Lebanon border has been tense though largely quiet since Israel warred with Hezbollah. Militants have fired rockets from Lebanon toward Israel multiple times since the conflict, without any of the incidents developing into a major skirmish.
Hezbollah has not claimed responsibility for any of the attacks since the war, and the military has attributed them to Palestinian groups and others linked to al-Qaeda.
To contact the reporter on this story: Calev Ben-David in Jerusalem at firstname.lastname@example.org
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