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Israel bombards Lebanon, Gaza after rocket fire from both

Israel bombards Lebanon, Gaza after rocket fire from both
Source: Twitter

Israel bombarded the Gaza Strip and Lebanon before dawn on Friday, saying it was targeting Palestinian militant group Hamas in retaliation for several dozen rockets fired at Israel from both territories.

It was the biggest salvo fired from Lebanon since Israel fought a devastating 34-day war with Iran-backed militant group Hezbollah in 2006 and the first time Israel has confirmed an attack on Lebanese territory since April 2022.

The bombardment was launched around 4 am (0100 GMT), hitting both the Gaza Strip and southern Lebanon, an Israeli army statement said.

The military “struck targets including terror infrastructures belonging to the Hamas terrorist organisation in southern Lebanon”, it said.

Explosions were heard by AFP journalists in Lebanon’s Tyre region as well as the Gaza Strip, where Israeli air raids had begun before midnight.

AFP journalists in the Tyre area said they heard at least three blasts shortly after Friday’s bombardment, and a resident of a nearby Palestinian refugee camp said he “heard explosions”.

“At least two shells fell near the camp”, Abu Ahmad told AFP.

Tensions have soared between Israel and Palestinians during what is both the Jewish Passover and the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, prompting international calls for restraint.

The latest flare-up of violence comes after Israeli police clashed Wednesday with Palestinians inside Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa mosque — Islam’s third-holiest site.

On Thursday, the Israeli army said more than 30 rockets had been fired from Lebanese territory.

The Lebanese army said it had found and dismantled a multiple rocket launcher in an olive grove in the Marjayoun area near the border, still loaded with six rockets primed to fire at Israel.

In the Gaza Strip, the Israeli army said it had hit two tunnels and “two weapon manufacturing sites” belonging to Hamas “as a response to the security violations of Hamas during the last few days.”

The army said air defences intercepted 25 rockets, while five hit Israeli territory.

The Israeli army said it “will not allow the Hamas terrorist organisation to operate from within Lebanon and holds the state of Lebanon responsible for every directed fire emanating from its territory”.

– ‘A heavy price’ –

Army spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Richard Hecht blamed Palestinian militants for the rocket fire from Lebanon.

“We know for sure it’s Palestinian fire,” he told reporters. “It could be Hamas, it could be Islamic Jihad.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said: “Israel’s response, tonight and in the future, will exact a heavy price.”

Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip, condemned the “appalling Israeli aggression” and said it “holds the Israeli occupation fully responsible for the consequences”.

The Palestinian health ministry said “partial damage” was done to the Al-Dorra children’s hospital in Gaza City in the overnight strikes, condemning the “unacceptable” act.

Hecht said the Israeli army was aware of the Palestinian allegation and looking into it.

The United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), which patrols the area along the Israeli border, urged restraint.

“Both sides (Lebanon and Israel) have said they do not want a war,” UNIFIL said in a statement.

“The actions over the past day are dangerous and risk a serious escalation,” it warned.

Lebanon’s caretaker prime minister, Najib Mikati, had on Thursday ruled out any “escalation” from his country after the rocket attack.

Israeli emergency services reported one man lightly wounded by shrapnel and a woman injured while running to a shelter.

Inspecting his damaged office in the town of Shlomi, 46-year-old Shlomi Naaman told AFP: “I heard the siren, I heard the boom, I was in my home, it was very, very scary.”

– Mosque raid –

Israeli riot police had on Wednesday stormed the prayer hall of Al-Aqsa mosque in a pre-dawn raid aiming to dislodge “law-breaking youths and masked agitators” they said had barricaded themselves inside.

The violence sparked an exchange of rockets and air strikes with militants in the Gaza Strip.

The United States said it recognised “Israel’s legitimate right to defend itself against all forms of aggression”, State Department spokesman Vedant Patel told reporters.

UN chief Antonio Guterres called on “all actors to exercise maximum restraint”.

Hamas and Islamic Jihad informed Egypt, a longstanding mediator between Israel and the militant groups, that “the Palestinian factions will continue their rocket fire if Israel continues its aggressions and air strikes but, if these aggressions stop, they will cease fire,” Palestinian sources said.

The Lebanese foreign ministry called on the international community to “put pressure on Israel to halt its escalation”.

The rocket fire came a day after Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh arrived in Lebanon for a visit.

Haniyeh said late Thursday that the Palestinians would not “sit with their arms crossed” in the face of Israeli “aggression” against Al-Aqsa.

About the author


Agence France-Presse (AFP) is a French international news agency headquartered in Paris, France. Founded in 1835 as Havas, it is the world's oldest news agency.

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