Israel intercepts Lebanon rocket fire, retaliates with strikes

AFP , Thursday 6 Apr 2023

The Israeli army said it intercepted rocket fire from Lebanon Thursday, a day after Israeli police attack on Palestinians inside Islam's third-holiest site drew warnings of retaliation from around the region.

Iron Dome
File Photo: Israel s Iron Dome aerial defense system is activated to intercept a rocket launched from the Gaza Strip, controlled by the Palestinian Hamas movement, above the southern Israeli city of Ashdod, on May 12, 2021. AFP

"A rocket was fired from Lebanon into Israeli territory and was successfully intercepted," an army statement said as Israeli media reported a "salvo" of projectiles had been fired. 

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack, which came amid heightened tensions after Israeli police brutal attacks on Palestinians worshippers inside Jerusalem's Al-Aqsa mosque before dawn Wednesday and again in the evening.

In response to the rocket fire, Israel struck targets in southern Lebanon, said Lebanon's National News Agency without reporting any casualties.

According to the Lebanon report, Israeli artillery fired "several shells from its positions on the border" towards the outskirts of two villages after the launch of "several Katyusha type rockets" at Israel.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was "receiving continuous updates about the security situation and will conduct an assessment with the heads of the security establishment," his office said.

Israeli emergency services reported a man had been lightly wounded by shrapnel and a female was injured while running to a shelter.

Warning sirens sounded in the town of Shlomi and in Moshav Betzet and the Galilee in northern Israel, the army said.

Defence Minister Yoav Gallant had been briefed on the details of the events on Israel's northern border, a ministry spokesman said.

"The minister will soon conduct a situation assessment with senior officials in the defence establishment," he added.

Al-Aqsa clashes

Israeli riot police had on Wednesday stormed the prayer hall of Al-Aqsa mosque in a pre-dawn raid aiming to dislodge Palestinians who were practicing itikaf, a religious practice that is common in Ramadan, whereby worshippers stay inside mosques overnight to pray.

Videos went viral on social media showing Israeli police breaking into the mosque, beating the worshippers with clubs and firing teargas cannisters, sound grenades inside the mosque and rubber bullets at Palestinian worshippers..

The violence, during both the Jewish Passover and the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, sparked an exchange of rockets and air strikes with militants in the Gaza Strip, with fears of further escalation.

Lebanon's movement Hezbollah had warned earlier Thursday it would support "all measures" that Palestinian may take against Israel after the clashes.

Shia militant group Hezbollah is the only Lebanese faction that kept its weapons after the end of the country's 1975-1990 civil war.

"Hezbollah forcefully denounces the assault carried out by the Israeli occupation forces against the Al-Aqsa mosque compound and its attacks on the faithful," Hezbollah said in a statement.

The last rocket fired from Lebanon into Israel was in April 2022.

Security incidents occur from time to time in the border area between Lebanon and Israel, which is guarded by the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon.

* This story has been edited by Ahram Online.

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