Israel attacks launch site in Lebanon after rockets ‘fired’

Security sources say one rocket fired from Lebanon landed in Lebanese territory and the second near a disputed area at the border.

An Israeli artillery gun fires a shell into Lebanon on the Israeli side of the Israel-Lebanon border
Israel's army says its forces struck an area of Lebanon from which a cross-border rocket launch was carried out [File: Gil Eliyahu/Reuters]

Israeli forces have struck an area of Lebanon from which a cross-border rocket launch was carried, its military said.

The statement said a rocket fired earlier on Thursday from within Lebanon had exploded within Israeli territory.

“In response, the IDF (Israeli military) is currently striking the area from which the launch was carried out in Lebanese territory,” the military statement said.

A previous statement by the military had said there were no preliminary findings of any unusual events on Israel’s side of the border.

Lebanon’s state news agency ANI said Israel had fired “more than 15 artillery shells” which hit around the communities of Kfar Chouba and Halta.

There was no claim of responsibility for the reported rocket fire and no immediate comment from the Lebanese army.

Sources in Lebanon said one rocket landed near the Lebanese border village of Wazzani and a second near the disputed village of Ghajar, which straddles the Israel-Lebanon border but whose residents profess allegiance to Syria.

In a separate incident hours later, a shooting was reported near an illegal Israeli settlement in the occupied West Bank, the Israeli military said. Emergency services said that one person was seriously wounded.

‘Cautious calm’

The United Nations’ peacekeeping force in southern Lebanon urged all sides to show restraint and avoid an escalation after the reported exchange of fire on Thursday given the area had “already experienced tensions earlier this week.”

Al Jazeera’s Zeina Khodr reporting from the Lebanese capital, Lebanon said a “cautious calm” was holding at the moment.

“We’ve seen this happen quite often really in the past few months. It has now been contained, the Israeli Army said that it shelled the area from which a rocket was launched from southern Lebanon into Israel, yet there is still no confirmation from Lebanon,” Khodr said.

“Both sides really have been careful not to risk a major flare-up. So, when Israel strikes back, they strike back in open areas. When rockets are launched from Lebanon, they avoid casualties. Both sides really have a lot to lose if there is a major escalation,” she added.

Reporting from West Jerusalem, Al Jazeera’s Imran Khan said the Israeli shelling hit an empty field.

“These were short-range mortars, not very powerful, and likely to be much more of a message than trying to strike anything,” he added.

The rocket fire came after Israel concluded one of its largest military operations in years in the occupied West Bank in the Palestinian refugee camp of Jenin.

Hezbollah, the powerful, Iran-backed Lebanese group that controls southern Lebanon and has fought several wars with Israel, expressed support for the Palestinian cause during the Israeli operation.

Hezbollah did not comment on the reports of rocket fire.

In a separate statement, the armed group condemned what it called “dangerous measures” taken by Israeli forces in the northern part of Ghajar, which Lebanon considers its. Hezbollah accused Israel of erecting a wire fence and building a cement wall.

Lebanon’s foreign ministry on Tuesday said it was concerned by the moves, saying they were creating a “new reality on the ground”. There was no immediate response from Israel’s military to the Hezbollah accusation.

Israel blamed the Palestinian group Hamas for firing rockets into Israel from Lebanon in April. That led to Israel hitting sites in Lebanon.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies