Israel launches airstrikes against Lebanon as a response to rockets

Israel launched rare airstrikes against its northern neighbor on Thursday, according to officials from the army and Lebanese officials. This was in response to the rocket attacks that had been fired by Lebanon the day before.

Israel launches airstrikes against Lebanon as a response to rockets

According to the Israeli military, jets hit the launch sites where the rockets were launched. They also struck an additional target that was used in attacks on Israel in the past. The Israeli military blamed Lebanon for the shelling, and warned against "any further attempts to harm Israeli civilians or Israel's sovereignty."

At a politically sensitive moment, the overnight airstrikes on southern Lebanon markedly escalated. The new coalition of eight parties in Israel is working to maintain peace in the fragile cease-fire, which ended an 11-day conflict with Hamas' rulers in Gaza in May. The Israeli border with northern Lebanon has been the focus of attention for several incidents, including rocket fire from Lebanon. The United States quickly condemned the attack on Israel.

Multiple crises have engulfed Lebanon, including a financial and economic meltdown that is devastating and a political deadlock that leaves the country without a functioning government for over a year.

Michel Aoun, President of Lebanon, stated that Israel's use its air force against Lebanese villages was the first since 2006. This indicated that Israel has "aggressive, escalatory intent" towards Lebanon. He stated that Lebanon would file a complaint with the United Nations.

Stefano Del Col, commander of UNIFIL's peacekeeping force in Lebanon (also known as UNIFIL), called for parties to "act with urgency" in order to de-escalate tensions, and prevent violations of the ceasefire that has been in place since 2006.

In 2006, Israel and Hezbollah, a Lebanese militant group, fought a brutal, one-month-long war that saw the deaths of around 1,200 Lebanese civilians and 160 Israeli soldiers. It failed to eliminate the group's rocket threat. Israeli officials claim that the Iran-backed Hezbollah has an improved missile arsenal which is capable of striking almost anywhere in Israel.

Hezbollah is not commenting on the claims of anyone to be responsible for the rocket fire from Lebanon. Al-Manar TV, which is owned by Hezbollah, reported that the Israeli strikes occurred at 2 AM Thursday. It stated that they struck an area in the Marjayoun village of Mahmoudiya.

Avichai Adraee (the Israeli army's Arabic language spokesman) stated that the Lebanese government was responsible for what happens on their territory. He also warned against further attacks from southern Lebanon on Israel.

Three rockets from Lebanon were fired into Israeli territory on Wednesday. Israel responded by firing sustained artillery shots. In northern Israel, sirens were heard warning of a possible attack by rockets. According to the army, two rockets were launched inside Israeli territory.

Channel 12 reported that one rocket was heard exploding in open areas and that another was intercepted at the Iron Dome, Israel's defense system. Israeli media reported that rockets landed near Kiryat Shmona (a village of around 20,000 people located near the Lebanese border).

According to the Lebanese military, Israel fired 92 artillery rounds on Lebanese villages in response to Wednesday's rocket fire from Lebanon. According to the military, the Israeli artillery shelling caused a fire in Rashaya al-Fukhar. Lebanese soldiers also claimed they were conducting patrols along the border and had established a number checkpoints. They also opened an investigation to find the source of rocket fire.

In recent months, there have been many similar incidents.

Ned Price, spokesperson for the U.S. State Department, condemned the rocket fire from Lebanon.

He stated that Israel has the right to defend itself from such attacks to reporters in Washington on Wednesday, and added that the U.S. would continue to engage with partners in the region to try to de-escalate this situation.