Rockets strike northern Israel

2011-11-29 11:45
Jerusalem – Rockets fired from Lebanon struck northern Israel early today for the first time in more than two years, drawing a burst of Israeli artillery fire across the tense border, the Israeli military said.

No casualties were reported on the Israeli side and no one immediately claimed responsibility for the attack.

The military said that at least two of the rockets landed on Israeli soil, and that Israeli guns shelled the area where the fire had originated.

The attack comes at a time when the entire region is engulfed in violence and upheaval, with thousands killed in the regime’s crackdown on protesters in Syria and after popular uprisings ousted longtime rulers in Libya, Egypt, Tunisia and Yemen.

The Israeli military said it did not expect today’s incident to touch off a wider conflict with Lebanon.

In a statement, however, it said it regarded the attack as “severe” and held the Lebanese government and army responsible for preventing rocket fire at Israel.

Army Radio said it was the eighth rocket attack since Israel’s month-long war with Lebanese Hezbollah guerrillas ended in August 2006.

Hezbollah has not claimed responsibility for any attacks since the end of the fighting, but smaller militant organisations, some Palestinian and some linked to al-Qaeda, have launched rockets on several occasions.

None of the rocket attacks has caused serious casualties.

But in August 2010, two Lebanese soldiers, a Lebanese journalist and an Israeli soldier were killed in a brief border clash touched off by Lebanese army fire toward an Israeli military base.

Overall, however, the border has been largely quiet but tense since the 2006 war, which was sparked by a deadly cross-border attack by Hezbollah on an Israeli military patrol.

Israel bombed the group’s strongholds and Hezbollah barraged northern Israel with nearly 4 000 rockets.

About 1 200 Lebanese and 160 Israelis were killed in the conflict, which ended with a UN-brokered truce that sent thousands of Lebanese troops and international peacekeepers to south Lebanon.

Although the cease-fire agreement forbade Hezbollah to rearm, Israel contends the group has since replenished its arsenal with even more powerful weapons.