Israel’s Air Force carried out an air strike Friday morning in Lebanese territory, near the capital, Beirut, the Israel Defense Forces said in a statement. The Jewish state’s air strike came in retaliation for a rocket attack launched Thursday afternoon by militants linked to Al Qaeda.
“Israel will not tolerate terrorist aggression originating from Lebanese territory,” military spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Peter Lerner said in a statement issued after the strike. The Israeli strike hit between Beirut and Sidon. No damage or injuries were reported.
On Thursday, four rockets fired from Lebanese territory reached the Northern part of Israel. There were no casualties, but some material damage. The attack was soon claimed on Twitter by the Abdullah Azzam Brigade, Lebanese militants linked to Al Qaeda.
In a statement, the Israeli Defense Forces refused to consider the rocket attack as an isolated incident but characterized it as a “terrorist aggression originating from Lebanese territory.” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu already promised a response. “We will act through a variety of means, to defend ourselves and to preempt attacks, and we will act responsibly,” he said in a text message. “Anyone who will attack us, anyone who will try to attack us, should know we will attack him,” he promised.
One rocket launched Thursday from Lebanon was intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defense system and two others landed in populated areas damaging property but nobody was killed or injured. The rockets triggered sirens and sent residents running for shelter in an attack that rattled a long calm along a border infamous as a tinderbox. The Israeli military attributed the attacks to the movement called Global Terror Organization. Israel’s army spokesman, Brigadier General Yoav Mordechai said in the statement that Israel holds the Lebanese government and military responsible for the attack. “That was the first rocket barrage from Lebanon since November 2011,” he said.
The Lebanon branch of Al Qaeda, the Abdullah Azzam Brigade’s local branch took responsibility for the attack on Twitter. The group is made up of Salafist militants from across the region. Lebanon’s President, Michel Suleiman, condemned Thursday’s attack and ordered the Lebanese security forces look for the attackers and bring them to justice. According to Lebanon’s official National News Agency, Suleiman said the attack violated the 2006 United Nations agreement ending the month-long war between Israel and Lebanon’s militant Shiite Muslim Hezbollah movement. Lebanon’s official news agency reports that the Lebanese army found launchers used to fire the rockets in the Tyre area.
These attacks happened after a British MP and veteran anti-Israel activist George Galloway accused Israel of supplying weapons to al-Qaeda, which were used in the alleged chemical attack in Syria. According to the Jerusalem Post, Galloway said “Israel gave them the chemical weapons.” He made his statement while a group of United Nations investigators are the ground in Syria, analyzing allegations of the use of chemical weapons that caused dozens of dead in a country in turmoil for more than two years. Over 100,000 have been killed in Syria’s civil war, according to UN estimates.
Both Assad, the Syrian President, and the opposition are accusing each other of using chemical weapons. The UN mission said it won’t be easy to determine who really used the arms. UN investigators will just determine if such weapons were really used. Amateur videos posted by Syrian rebels, which have not been authenticated, show dozens of people killed and other writhing in pain after being bombed by what seem to be chemical weapons. The Syrian opposition said in an unconfirmed report that more than 1,300 were killed in the attack near Damascus.
The last clash between Israel and Lebanon was in 2006 when Israel invaded Lebanon in retaliation against the militant and political group Hezbollah.
Source: The Jerusalem Post, Bloomberg, Stream.wsj.com, BBC, AP and CNN