Aug. 22 (Bloomberg) -- Militants in Lebanon fired at least four rockets at northern Israel today, causing no injuries, the Israeli military said, adding to the turmoil gripping the Middle East.
One rocket was intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defense system, and the army is checking reports that others landed elsewhere in northern Israel, Peter Lerner said in a conference call with reporters. He had previously said none of the rockets struck.
No one claimed responsibility for the attack, which the military said was the first rocket barrage from Lebanon since November 2011, and Lerner said the Israeli military did not retaliate. He said the military thinks they were fired by Islamist “jihadist” militants based in Lebanon.
“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 after the rocket attack. “Anyone who will attack us, anyone who will try to attack us, should know we will attack him.”
The rockets were fired from an area south of the Lebanese city of Tyre, Lerner said. The Lebanese army found launchers used to fire the rockets in the Tyre area, the official Lebanese National News Agency said. Tyre is 19 kilometers (12 miles) north of Israel.
Lebanese President Michel Suleiman condemned the rocket assault and ordered his security forces to find the attackers and bring them to justice, the NNA said. Suleiman said the attacks violated the 2006 United Nations agreement ending the month-long war between Israel and Lebanon’s militant Shiite Muslim Hezbollah movement.
“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.”
Israel’s Channel 2 showed footage of rocket debris on a street in the area of Nahariya, a city just south of the border with Lebanon. Lerner said he thought the debris came from the the intercepted rocket.
The United Nations peacekeeping force in southern Lebanon, known as UNIFIL, has not issued a statement on the attack.
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, including an unconfirmed opposition report yesterday of more than 1,300 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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