Z a c Zack

Live Life Deliberately

Rockets fired from Lebanon into northern Israel as regional tensions soar


JERUSALEM — Air raid sirens wailed in northern Israel on Thursday afternoon as dozens of rockets were fired from across the border in Lebanon, raising the specter of a broader regional conflict after Israeli police raids on one of Islam’s holiest sites.

An initial assessment from the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said that 25 of the 34 rockets were intercepted by the country’s air defense system and that at least five others landed in Israeli territory. “More details to follow,” it said.

The Magen David Adom ambulance service said it treated a 19-year-old man for light shrapnel wounds and that a 60-year-old woman was injured as she scrambled to an air raid shelter.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office announced a high-level security meeting, expected to take place Thursday afternoon. Israel’s Defense Ministry said Defense Minister Yoav Gallant — still serving despite being dismissed by Netanyahu last month for his opposition to a controversial government plan to weaken the Supreme Court — has been briefed on the details and that a more extensive assessment of the situation would follow.

“No special instructions for civilians on the Israeli home front have been issued,” the IDF said.

No group immediately claimed responsibility for Thursday’s strikes, but, as with previous attacks, they coincided with flaring tensions between Israelis and Palestinians.

The escalation followed a second night of violence around Jerusalem’s al-Aqsa Mosque, as Israeli police stormed the area using stun grenades, rubber bullets and batons to disperse thousands of worshipers who had gathered in the courtyard for Ramadan prayers.

At least six Palestinians were injured, according to the Palestine Red Crescent Society. It said 37 were injured the night before when Israeli officers stormed into one of the mosque’s main prayer halls after worshipers had locked themselves inside. Worshipers threw stones and firecrackers at them, police said, and videos from the scene showed officers beating people with batons.

The Muslim holy month of Ramadan coincides this year with the Jewish Passover holiday, a situation that Israeli security officials have long warned could lead to violent escalation as worshipers gather in greater numbers and far-right supporters of Netanyahu’s government test a decades-old status quo around Jerusalem’s holy esplanade, known to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary and to Jews as the Temple Mount.

The cross-border rocket barrage was one of the largest since 2006, when Israel fought a 34-day war against militants from Hezbollah, a Lebanese Shiite armed group and political party. Alongside allies, it controls the largest number of seats in Lebanon’s parliament and casts itself as a symbol of resistance to Israel and a defender of the Palestinian cause.

Lebanon is also home to Palestinian armed groups that are suspected of launching smaller rocket attacks in recent years.

Lebanese media reported that the army has been dispatched to the south of the country to locate the launch site, but an army spokesman remained vague. “The army is already there anyway,” said Col. George Khoury, adding that members of the army usually check on such developments. He said more details would be given later.

In a statement, the United Nations peacekeeping mission in Lebanon described the situation as “extremely serious.”

Dadouch reported from Beirut.


(Visited 1 times, 1 visits today)