Abdullah Azzam Brigades claims rocket attack on Galilee
By AFP/Naharnet Newsdesk
One rocket was fired from southern Lebanon into northern Israel overnight, prompting the Jewish state’s army to warn Beirut early Tuesday to work to prevent similar attacks in the future.
The Lebanese army released a statement saying that one rocket was fired from southern Lebanon from the area between the town of Haneen and Rmaish into Israel.
The National News Agency reported that Israel retaliated by firing four rockets on Aita al-Shaab.
Later Tuesday, the army and the UNIFIL found a rocket launchpad between Wadi Ain Ebel area and Rmaish, according to NNA.
A military spokesman confirmed to Agence France Presse that at least one rocket was fired from the region of Rmaish.
“We know that a rocket was fired from the region of Rmaish and we are investigating,” said the spokesman, who did not want to be identified.
He said Israel had retaliated by firing four rockets.
The region of Rmaish is largely controlled by Hizbullah, but an official from the group told AFP he had no immediate comment on Tuesday’s incident.
A source from Hizbullah told Voice of Lebanon radio (100.5) that the party will issue a statement on the rocket incident, ruling out that it had anything to do with the attack.
However, the Israeli army said several rockets were fired from southern Lebanon and landed in the western Galilee region, causing no casualties.
After the rocket fire, the Israeli army retaliated, striking the outskirts of Aita al-Shaab with artillery shells, the army said, without offering further specifics.
Israeli military radio, citing army officials, said the rocket fire was likely the work of a small Palestinian or Islamist group rather than Hizbullah.
The radio added that Israeli military officials had stressed their desire to avoid an escalation and said that the response to the rocket fire would be “limited and selective.”
Later Tuesday, Abdullah Azzam Brigades, the Qaida affiliated organization, claimed the attack against northern Israel.
It said in a statement that the Azzam Brigades that the rockets had “hit the targets.”
It said it was the eighth rocket attack since the war between the Jewish state and Hizbullah ended in August 2006.
Both Israeli government and military officials called on the Lebanese government and military to prevent rocket fire towards the Jewish state.
Intelligence Minister Dan Meridor told Israeli military radio that “the Lebanese government and its army hold sole responsibility for what happens” in southern Lebanon.
“The question of who is behind this fire is not yet answered,” he said, adding that “Hizbullah understands that it has no interest in an escalation.”
In its statement, the Israeli military warned that it considered the rocket fire “a serious incident and believes that it is the responsibility of the Lebanese government and the Lebanese army to avoid this kind of attacks.”
On Tuesday morning, local Israeli military commanders were still assessing the situation but had not instructed residents to go to air raid shelters.
The most recent exchange of fire along the always tense Israeli-Lebanese border was on August 1, when soldiers from the two countries opened fire along the the Blue Line, the U.N.-drawn border.
That incident came almost a year after Lebanese and Israeli troops traded fire along the same border, killing two Lebanese soldiers and a journalist along with a senior Israeli officer.
That flare-up was the worst clash between the two sides since Israel’s devastating 2006 war in Lebanon against Hizbullah.
The war, launched after a Hizbullah cross-border raid that captured two Israeli soldiers, destroyed much of Lebanon’s major infrastructure and killed more than 1,200 Lebanese — mainly civilians — and 160 Israelis, mainly soldiers.
In May 2011, tensions once again flared as protesters massed on the border between the two countries to mark the anniversary of the 1948 creation of the Jewish state, which Palestinians term the “nakba,” or catastrophe.
Israeli troops killed 10 people and wounded more than 110 others as protesters tried to flood across the border from Lebanon.