Lebanese army finds more rockets aimed at Israel, 2 days after worst barrage in years
Soldiers locate unlaunched projectiles in southern Qlaileh area, after about 34 were fired from territory on Thursday night; Hanegbi defends Israeli response as ‘not weak’
The Lebanese army said Saturday it had located several rockets prepared for launch in southern Lebanon, two days after over three dozen projectiles were launched into Israel from its northern neighbor.
Army units located launchers and a number of unlaunched rockets in the Qlaileh area, the Lebanese military tweeted. It was unclear if they had failed to launch in the original bombardment, or had been scheduled to launch later.
Amid a multifront escalation of violence, 34 rockets were launched into Israel from Lebanon, with five landing inside Israel, four with unknown impact sites, and the rest downed by the Iron Dome air-defense system. Two people were lightly injured by shrapnel. Since then, the Lebanese army has announced finding several rockets prepared for launch across southern Lebanon.
Israel has blamed the Hamas terror group for the rocket fire, as well as volleys of rockets fired from Gaza. Its air force carried out strikes in both Gaza and Lebanon on Thursday night in retaliation.
Lebanon’s Defense Ministry was quoted by the Ynet news site on Friday as saying the violence was a “threat to stability, and the Lebanese army is ready to defend against any attack.” The statement added: “The army is making sure to work in coordination with UNIFIL in order to preserve quiet,” referencing the United Nations peacekeeping group that monitors the northern border.
The uptick in violence has come as tensions have spiked in recent days following Israeli police incursions into the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound to quell rioting. On Friday, two sisters were killed and their mother was left fighting for her life in a shooting attack in the West Bank; then later that night, an Italian tourist was killed and seven others were hurt in a suspected car-ramming attack on a promenade in Tel Aviv.
The IDF said it struck several “infrastructure targets” and other sites belonging to Hamas in Lebanon in retaliation for the rocket fire.
Israeli missiles struck an open field near the Palestinian refugee camp of Rashidiyeh, close to the coastal southern city of Tyre, according to an Associated Press photographer.
Other strikes hit a small bridge and power transformer in the nearby town of Maaliya and a flock of sheep in the town of Qalili, on the outskirts of the Palestinian camp. Several sheep were killed and residents of the town, including Syrian refugees, reported minor injuries.
Israeli right-wing hawks have criticized the Israeli response as insufficient, having expected massive strikes in response to the volley from Lebanon — the largest such rocket attack on Israel since 2006.
National Security Adviser Tzachi Hanegbi defended the response against Hamas following the rocket fire, saying it was “not weak.”
“The targets in Lebanon were chosen in a way that wouldn’t force a response [by terror groups],” Hanegbi told Channel 12 news.
“There was a significant attack against a number of targets. They did not react, which shows the deterrence is there,” Hanegbi claimed — despite Palestinian terrorists launching at least 44 rockets at Israel amid and following the airstrikes.
And he added that Israel had not yet had its final say on the matter, and those who assume so “are assuming wrong.”
Lebanon’s Foreign Ministry said Friday that the country would file a complaint to the United Nations Security Council over the airstrikes.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.