Lebanon’s army finds rocket launchers, arrests suspect

Three missiles, likely Katyushas, land near northern Israeli towns in early morning; IDF responds with artillery shells

Illustrative photo of Lebanese troops (photo credit: AP/Hussein Malla)
Illustrative photo of Lebanese troops (photo credit: AP/Hussein Malla)

Lebanese Army sappers located and dismantled on Friday at least two rockets that were prepared for launch near the Israeli border. A Lebanese military spokesman said the weapons seemed to have malfunctioned and were found in a search following rocket fire at Israel earlier Friday, Walla reported.

A trail of blood and a ripped shoe were later found at the site, Lebanese media reported. The army said it had arrested one man in connection to the firing of the three rockets.

On Friday morning, three rockets that were fired from Lebanon landed near Kfar Yuval, between the northern Israeli towns of Metulla and Kiryat Shmona, close to the Israeli border and some 200 kilometers from Tel Aviv. Fragments from one of the rockets were later found in an open area near Kiryat Shmona.

The IDF responded with heavy artillery fire toward the area from which the rocket was launched, according to an army spokesman. At least 25 artillery shells reportedly slammed the outskirts of the Lebanese town of Kfar Shuba.

There were no reports of injuries or damage, on either the Israeli or the Lebanese side of the border.

According to Lebanese media, the rockets were launched from the village of Hasbaya, in the south of the country, and the group behind the attack had yet to take responsibility. Defense officials in Israel asserted that the rockets were likely Katyushas fired by a Palestinian group that identifies with Hamas.

Following the rocket attack, IDF officials filed a complaint with UNIFIL, the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon. UNIFIL spokesman Andrea Tenenti said the organization was looking into the incidents, according to Lebanese media.

IDF Spokesman Lt. Col. Peter Lerner stated that it was still unclear whether the rocket attack was “symbolic or something more substantial,” AP reported.

US President Barack Obama on Thursday told Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu he was worried that fierce fighting with Hamas in Gaza could escalate, and offered US help to broker a cease-fire.

Also Thursday, the US State Department put the blame for the new violence squarely on Hamas and its rocket attacks on Israeli cities.

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