Lebanon dismantles loaded rocket launcher primed to fire at Israel

AFP , Friday 7 Apr 2023

The Lebanese army said Friday it had dismantled a launcher loaded with rockets ready to be fired at Israel, hours after Israel shelled Lebanese territory in response to the biggest rocket salvo since 2006.

Maaliya village, Lebanon
Photo from the official Twitter account of the Lebanese Army shows a rocket launcher with some unfired projectiles near Marjayoun, in southern Lebanon bordering Israel, on March 7, 2023. AFP


The dawn bombardment, also targeting the Gaza Strip, was in retaliation for several dozen rockets fired on Thursday at Israel from both Lebanon and the Palestinian territory.

A statement by the Lebanese army said "A rocket launcher was found armed with rockets that had not been fired yet in the Marjayoun plain" near the Israeli border.

The army said it had dismantled the multiple rocket launcher which it found abandoned in an olive grove. It published pictures on Twitter of the launcher still loaded with six rockets that had not been fired.

On Thursday, the Israeli army said more than 30 rockets had been fired from Lebanese territory into Israel in the largest escalation on the northern border since Israel and the Iran-backed Lebanese Shiite movement Hezbollah fought a 34-day war in 2006.

Israel retaliated at dawn Friday with a barrage of fire on the Tyre region on the Mediterranean coast. The Israeli army said it "struck targets including terror infrastructures belonging to the Hamas terrorist organization in southern Lebanon".

It was the first time Israel has confirmed an attack on Lebanese territory since April 2022.

Shells hit a field and damaged a house near the Palestinian refugee camp of Rashidiyeh, an area from where rockets were fired at Israel, AFP correspondents said.

One shell hit a banana grove in the village of Qlayle, another area from where rockets were fired.

"There are no Hezbollah or Palestinian military positions here. The Israeli are unleashing their anger on banana groves," Mohsen Mortada, a resident of Qlayle, told AFP.

The Israeli army has blamed Palestinian militants for the rocket fire from Lebanon.

"We know for sure it's Palestinian fire," Lieutenant Colonel Richard Hecht said on Thursday. "It could be Hamas, it could be Islamic Jihad."

Hezbollah has a good relationship with Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip, and Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh is currently in Lebanon.

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.

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