Israel launches rare strike in Lebanon, also attacks Gaza

Jerusalem – Israel launched a rare offensive in southern Lebanon early Friday morning, pushing its bombing targets in the Gaza Strip and following this week’s violence in Jerusalem’s most sensitive holy city, sparking a growing escalation in the region. Indicated.

Cross-border fighting erupted at a time of heightened religious fervor as Jews celebrated Passover and Muslims marked the holy month of Ramadan. In 2021, clashes at the Al-Aqsa Mosque complex in Jerusalem also sparked an escalation, spilling over into his 11-day war between Israel and the Hamas rulers of Gaza.

Friday’s strike in southern Lebanon came a day after militants fired about 30 rockets into Israel from there, injuring two people and causing property damage. The Israeli military said it targeted a facility belonging to the Palestinian militant group Hamas in southern Lebanon.

An Associated Press correspondent in the region said several missiles fired by Israeli fighter jets hit an open field in the town of Qalili, near the Palestinian refugee camp in Rashidiye, near the southern coastal city of Tyre. Several sheep were slaughtered in the town of Marya and on farms outside Rassidier. No human deaths have been reported.

An Israeli strike in Lebanon risks drawing Lebanese Hezbollah militias into battle, which could lead to war. It controls most of the land and is considered a bitter enemy by Israel.

The Israeli military cautioned in its announcement about Friday’s attack that it was only targeting sites linked to Palestinian militants. has avoided other flare-ups related to the Al-Aqsa Mosque, which stands above

Before dawn prayers on Friday in Jerusalem, the hills as Israeli police stationed at one of the gates forcibly dispersed a large crowd of worshipers who forced their way into a limestone courtyard chanting praise to Hamas. Violence erupted again on the grounds above. Video from the scene shows police beating a large group of Palestinian men with sticks as they trip back, fall and knock over the seller’s table.

Major General Arold Lazarus, the commander of the UN peacekeeping force in Lebanon, said he was in contact with Israeli and Lebanese authorities early Friday morning. The force, known as UNIFIL, said both sides said they did not want war.

Meanwhile, Israeli air strikes on Gaza resumed early Friday morning after militants fired more rockets from the blockaded territory and sounded air raid sirens at the Israeli coastal city of Ashkelon. , targets included entrances to underground networks used for weapons production.

Current wave of violence began Wednesday after Israeli police Attacked Al-Aqsa Mosque twice in the old city of Jerusalem. This led to rockets being fired from Gaza on Thursday and a significant escalation of rockets from Lebanon.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu convened the Security Cabinet for a three-hour meeting late Thursday. “Israel’s response tonight and beyond will draw a heavy price from its enemies,” he said in a statement after the meeting.

Almost immediately, Palestinian militants in Gaza began firing rockets into southern Israel, sounding air raid sirens throughout the region. Loud explosions from Israeli airstrikes were heard in Gaza, and launching rockets were flying toward Israel. So far, Palestinian militants have only launched short-range rockets from Gaza, not long-range projectiles that can reach as far as Tel Aviv and typically invite harsher Israeli retaliation.

The Israeli military said rocket launches on its northern and southern fronts were carried out by Palestinian militants in connection with violence in Al-Aqsa this week. Violent scenes at the mosque heightened tensions throughout the region.

In a briefing with reporters, Israeli military spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Richard Hecht said the military had drawn a clear link between the Lebanese rocket fire and the recent unrest in Jerusalem.

“This is an event for Palestine,” he said, adding that either Hamas or Islamic jihadist militant groups based in Gaza but also active in Lebanon may be involved. . But he said the military believes Hezbollah and the Lebanese government are aware of what happened and are responsible for it.

The third holiest site in Islam, this mosque sits on a hill revered by Jews as Temple Mount, the holiest site in Judaism. Competing claims against the site have repeatedly escalated into violence over the years.

The Lebanese faction has not claimed responsibility for the rocket salvo. The Lebanese security official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media, said the country’s security forces believed the rockets were fired by a Palestinian militant group based in Lebanon, not by Hezbollah. said that

Lebanon’s interim prime minister, Najib Mikati, has condemned the rocket launch from Lebanon, adding that the Lebanese army and UN peacekeepers are conducting an investigation and trying to find the perpetrators. Mikati said his government “resolutely rejects any military escalation” and categorically refuses to use Lebanese territory to stage acts that threaten stability.

Hezbollah has condemned Israeli police raids in Jerusalem. Israel and Hezbollah have avoided all-out confrontation since her 34-day war ended in a draw in 2006.

The current escalation is against the background of Netanyahu’s domestic affairs. Over the past three months, hundreds of thousands of Israelis have demonstrated against his plans to overhaul the country’s judicial system, claiming it will lead the country to authoritarianism.

Key military units, including fighter pilots, have threatened to stop reporting to duty if the overhaul is passed, warning Yoav Gallant of Defense that Israel’s national security could be undermined by the split plan. drawn from the phase. Netanyahu said he would sack Gallant, but backed off after an overhaul was put on hold for weeks. Critics can also accuse him of trying to use the crisis to divert attention from domestic problems.

Netanyahu said domestic divisions have not affected national security and the country will remain united in the face of external threats.

Tensions are rising along the Lebanese border.Israel appears to be stepping up its shadow war against Iran-related targets in Syria, another close ally of Israel’s arch-nemesis Iran in the region. .

Suspected Israeli airstrikes in Syria in recent weeks have killed two Iranian military advisers and temporarily disabled two of the country’s largest airports. It said Thursday’s rocket launches were not believed to be related to events in Syria.

In Washington, Deputy State Department Press Secretary Vedant Patel said, “Israel has legitimate security concerns and has every right to defend itself.”

However, he also called for tranquility in Jerusalem, stating that “unilateral actions that jeopardize our current situation are unacceptable.”

In Jerusalem, the situation remained tense at Al-Aqsa. Two nights before that, Palestinians barricaded the mosque with stones and firecrackers.

Worshipers have demanded the right to pray overnight inside the mosque, but authorities usually allow only the last 10 days of the month-long Ramadan holiday. They also remain in mosques to protest threats by religious Jews to perform ritual animal slaughter on Passover holy sites.

Israel didn’t try to prevent people from spending the night in the mosque early on Friday – apparently because it was the weekend when Jews didn’t visit the grounds. But tensions could reignite when Jewish visits resume on Sunday.

Israel bans ritual slaughter on premises, but Jewish extremists call to revive practices, including offering cash rewards to anyone trying to bring animals onto premises increasing fears among Muslims that Israel is plotting to take over the premises

In a riot this week, Israeli police fired stun grenades and rubber bullets to evict worshipers who locked the doors of the building. The Palestinians threw stones and fireworks at the officers.

Police severely beat Palestinians and arrested more than 400. Israeli authorities control access to the area, but the facilities are controlled by Islamic and Jordanian officials.

Violence on the ground has spread throughout the region, prompting an outpouring of condemnation from Muslim leaders.


Akram reported from Gaza City, Gaza Strip. His AP writer Bassem Mroue in Beirut also contributed.

Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

https://www.local10.com/news/world/2023/04/06/rockets-fired-from-gaza-raise-tension-as-passover-begins/ Israel launches rare strike in Lebanon, also attacks Gaza

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