Netanyahu: Lebanese government, Hezbollah responsible for rockets

Two Katyushas fall on Galilee, IDF retaliates with artillery fire; Ya’alon: Israel ‘won’t tolerate’ such attacks

Hezbollah fighters attending a rally in Beirut, Lebanon, November 2011. (photo credit: AP/Bilal Hussein)
Hezbollah fighters attending a rally in Beirut, Lebanon, November 2011. (photo credit: AP/Bilal Hussein)

Israel holds the Lebanese government and Hezbollah responsible for the Sunday morning rocket fire into Israeli territory, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday, and Israel will continue to respond “quickly and forcefully.”

“We hold the Lebanese government responsible for firing that is carried out from within its territory,” Netanyahu said ahead of the weekly cabinet meeting, and noted that Hezbollah, by “stationing thousands of missiles and rockets in apartments… is thus perpetrating two war crimes simultaneously. It is organizing the firing at civilians, just as it did today, and it is hiding behind civilians as human shields.”

The prime minister spoke after two Katyusha rockets fired from Lebanon landed west of the northern Galilee town of Kiryat Shmona. No one was wounded and there was no damage reported from the attack.

Security officials said a total of four rockets were launched from southern Lebanon, but two failed to make it across the border, landing inside Lebanon. The report was followed on Sunday morning by a Lebanese report of two rocket falls near Sarda, a village some 10 kilometers from Marj Ayoun near the border with Israel. Lebanese Army troops deployed to the area to investigate.

The Lebanese government and army, Netanyahu said, “are not lifting a finger” to prevent such attacks, and “Iran, of course, is behind this arming by Hezbollah.”

The IDF “responded quickly and forcefully to the rocket fire from Lebanon,” Netanyahu said, adding, “This is our policy regarding Lebanon just as it is with the Gaza Strip. We will not allow a drizzle and we will respond strongly, and if need be, will carry out preventive action.”

Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon warned on Sunday that Israel “won’t tolerate being fired upon from Lebanese territory” and “won’t allow anyone to disrupt the lives of Israeli citizens.”

Ya’alon urged “that no one test our patience or our intention to protect the citizens of Israel.”

The IDF said in a tweet on its Hebrew-language Twitter feed that it retaliated for the rocket attack with “massive artillery fire of dozens of shells targeting the source of the [rocket] fire.” Lebanese sources disagreed on the number and targets of the shells fired by the IDF, with Lebanon’s state news agency saying that over 20 shells hit the mountainous, rugged area around the southern Lebanese border area of Rashaya early Sunday. There were no reports of injuries on the Lebanese side.

Meanwhile, Hezbollah’s official Al-Manar news outlet reported four artillery shells targeted the southern Lebanese village of Shuba. Lebanese and UN security forces went on high alert following the exchange of fire.

“This attack from Lebanese soil is an inexcusable, unacceptable, blatant breach of Israel’s sovereignty,” IDF spokesman to the international press Lt. Col. Peter Lerner said on Twitter Sunday.

“Launching rockets from Lebanon in to Israel jeopardizes thousands of civilian lives in the north, a reality no sovereign state would accept. The IDF maintains the right to self defense and will operate accordingly against the perpetrators,” he added.

The Katyusha is a WWII-era, Soviet-made 122-mm rocket favored by terror groups for its mobility.

The attack follows a series of incidents in recent months along the border.

Earlier this month, Master Sgt. Shlomi Cohen, 31, was shot and killed by a Lebanese Army soldier while driving along the border near the coastal town of Rosh Hanikra. The shooting happened near the spot where a bomb blew up an army jeep, injuring four soldiers, in August. Four Katyusha rockets were fired from Lebanon into Israel in late August.

AP contributed to this report.

Most Popular
read more: