Israel strikes Lebanon after rocket attack near border

Army confirms retaliatory action after projectile was launched near Ghajar

Smoke rises in Kfarshouba, near the border with Israel, in southern Lebanon. Reuters
Powered by automated translation

Israel fired a barrage of missiles at Lebanon after a rocket was launched from south Lebanon towards the border on Thursday morning.

A Lebanese Army source confirmed the rocket attack, telling The National at least 15 missiles were launched from Israel. They landed in Kafr Shuba, but caused no injuries or damage to buildings.

The Israeli army told The National the action was in response to a rocket launch "that was carried out from Lebanese territory, which exploded adjacent to the border in Israeli territory".

“In response, [Israeli forces are] currently striking the area from which the launch was carried out," the Israeli army told The National.

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

Israel had initially denied reports of a rocket launch.

An Israeli army source confirmed to The National that its missile alarm system had not gone off after the rocket attack from Lebanon.

The army is "checking why the alert system didn’t go off", the source said.

The army later confirmed the launch from Lebanon, which was fired near the town of Ghajar, an area near the Golan Heights that is claimed by Lebanon and Syria, and occupied by Israel. The southern part of the town was annexed by Israel in 1981, a move that has not been recognised by the international community.

It is not clear clear who launched the initial rocket from Ghajar. The Israeli army said it was looking into the incident.

The United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (Unifil) responsible for monitoring the Lebanon-Israel border on Thursday urged restraint, urging belligerent sides to "avoid any action that could cause further escalation".

"This incident comes at a sensitive time and in an area that has already experienced tensions earlier this week," a Unifil statement said.

The statement was made in reference to recent tensions that have flared between Israel and Lebanon as Israel sought to build a fence in the northern side of Ghajar.

Ghajar has long been a site of tension between the two countries. For years, access on the Israeli side was restricted, but controls were lifted in 2022 and the town was opened to Israeli tourism.

The area near the town is heavily mined and early reports in Israeli media suggested the explosion could have been caused by such ordnance.

Hezbollah, the Iran-backed armed group and political party that has a strong presence in the area, said last week that it downed an Israeli drone flying over a village in southern Lebanon.

In recent weeks, tension between the two countries escalated over tents that Hezbollah erected on the Israeli side of the border.

Earlier on Thursday, Hezbollah condemned recent action taken by Israel in Ghajar, including the construction of a barbed-wire fence and a cement wall on the northern side of the village, considered Lebanese territory.

The statement made no reference to the initial alleged rocket attack from Lebanese soil.

The Israeli and Lebanese militaries often clash over border issues in the region, which is also observed by UN troops.

The strike comes amid heightened Israeli-Palestinians after a deadly raid on Jenin refugee camp.

Daily violence in the West Bank has resulted in greater tension between Israel and Lebanon, reaching a peak in March when rockets were fired from Lebanon after Israeli attacks on Palestinian worshippers at Al Aqsa mosque.

Updated: July 06, 2023, 12:43 PM