Israel Strikes Lebanon After Barrage of Militia Rockets

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by Tyler Durden
Friday, Apr 07, 2023 - 11:45 AM

The Israel-Lebanon border area witnessed its most intense hostilities since 2006 on Thursday and Friday, with Israeli fighter jets attacking targets in southern Lebanon in retaliation for a rocket attack on northern Israel. Gaza also saw an exchange of fire.

“Israel’s reaction, tonight and in the future, will exact a significant price from our enemies,” said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a statement. 

The exchange represents a troubling new escalation of regional warfare that erupted Tuesday night, after Israeli police raided Jerusalem's Al Aqsa mosque, smashing windows and brutally beating worshippers who'd locked themselves inside. They arrested hundreds more who'd stayed on the compound after Israel-specified visiting hours. 

Al Aqsa is the third-holiest site in Islam, and it's situated on land also revered by Jews, who call it the Temple Mount. Israel's actions sparked outrage across the Muslim world, garnering condemnations from the governments of Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Egypt. 

Soon after the Israeli police raid, militants in Gaza fired rockets at southern Israel, most of which were reportedly intercepted by the US-subsidized Iron Dome system. Israel responded with air force strikes on Gaza. 

Thursday brought warfare on a different frontier and with higher intensity, as northern Israel faced a barrage of 34 rockets fired from southern Lebanon. An Israeli military source told Reuters that mortars were also fired across the frontier. It's said to be the largest such attack from the territory since 2006 and Israel's war with the Lebanese political and militant group Hezbollah. 

While Israel said most of the rockets were intercepted, others caused moderate damage in the northern border town of Shlomi. There were several injuries, but no reported fatalities. 

The Israeli military said the attacks from Lebanon came from affiliates of Gaza-based Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad militias. The New York Times reports Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh was in Lebanon on Thursday, meeting with leaders of both groups. 

Israeli authorities say the rocket barrage likely had the blessing of Hezbollah, which controls most of southern Lebanon. Earlier on Thursday, Hezbollah warned that "hundreds of millions of Muslims” were willing to “shed blood” for al-Aqsa. 

Shortly after midnight local time, Israeli jets struck targets in Gaza. Israeli officials said 10 targets there included Hamas tunnels and weapons-manufacturing facilities. However, it's also been reported that the Al-Durra Children's Hospital was damaged by shrapnel. The Gaza Ministry of Health said patients were terrified

That Israeli onslaught triggered another round of 44 rockets from Gaza. One struck a house in Sderot, Israel, without causing injuries. This video purportedly shows the aftermath:  

Using both aircraft and tanks, Israel next blasted buildings in Lebanon that it said were used by Hamas. 

It appears both sides are tailoring their strikes to moderate the escalation of hostilities. As the New York Times' Patrick Kingsley reports

In Gaza, both sides initially kept open the possibility of de-escalation by focusing their fire away from major cities. By 6 a.m., no injuries had been reported by the authorities in either Gaza or southern Israel. Palestinian militias used short-range rockets instead of targeting cities in central Israel. Israel did not strike downtown Gaza City or other city centers. 

De-escalation will also require moderation of Israel's actions against Palestinians observing Ramadan. “Aqsa is a red line for all Muslims,” Kassem Kassir, a political analyst close to Hezbollah tells the New York Times. “The rocket attack is a message to Israel that we won’t be silent about all this escalation. If the escalation continues, the 20 rockets might become 1,000 in the coming days.”