The rocket fire from Lebanon into Israel early Sunday morning was a double war
crime because it endangered innocent civilians on both sides of the border,
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu told the cabinet Sunday
Netanyahu, speaking shortly after a terrorist organization in
Lebanon fired five Katyusha rockets at Israel around 7:30 a.m., said the IDF had
retaliated strongly to the attack. Two of the rockets crossed the border and
landed near Kiryat Shmona, though army sources said it was not immediately clear
who fired them.
Kiryat Shmona residents reported seeing smoke rising from
a fire sparked by one of the projectiles which landed on a hill overlooking the
The IDF immediately responded with massive artillery fire.
Reuters witness in the Lebanon frontier area said 33 Israeli shells hit near two
southern border towns. No injuries were reported on either side of the
“We woke up to the sounds of rockets this morning,” Kiryat Shmona
Mayor Nissim Malka told Channel 2 News.
“At the moment, residents are
going to work as normal. We will notify them of changes if
The United Nations, which monitors the border, has urged both
sides to remain calm. But Israeli leaders said they had a responsibility to
respond when attacked.
“Today, the IDF responded quickly and forcefully
to the rocket fire from Lebanon,” Netanyahu said as he explained that he held
Hezbollah and both the Lebanese and Iranian governments responsible for the
attack. “We will not allow a drizzle and we will respond strongly and, if need
be, will carry out preventive action.
“What is happening in Lebanon is
that Hezbollah is stationing thousands of missiles and rockets in apartments, in
the heart of the civilian population, and is thus perpetrating two war crimes
simultaneously,” the prime minister continued. “It is organizing the firing at
civilians, just as it did today, and it is hiding behind civilians as human
The Lebanese government and army has not lifted “a finger to
prevent this arming and these crimes. We hold the Lebanese government
responsible for this development,” Netanyahu said.
He noted that Iran was
a player behind the scenes in that it had armed Hezbollah, just as it assisted
the Syrian government in killing its own citizens. Even as Iran continues to
negotiate with the West, the prime minister said, it continues to arm terrorist
organizations and to develop its nuclear weapons program.
Minister Moshe Ya’alon said: “We will not tolerate fire from Lebanese
territory. Israel will not allow anyone to disrupt the daily routine of
“We see the Lebanese government and the Lebanese military
as responsible for the shooting this morning and for whatever happens in their
territory, and we will not permit further incidents like the one that happened
this morning,” he said. “The IDF responded with massive shelling of the area
from where the rockets were launched, and if need be it will act with greater
force [in the future]. I wouldn’t recommend that anyone try our patience and
determination to protect the security of the citizens of Israel.”
Lebanese border has been largely quiet since Israel and Hezbollah fought a
34-day war in 2006. But tension spiked this month when a Lebanese soldier killed
an Israeli soldier across the border fence, after which a UN peacekeeping force
met both sides to restore calm.
Officials suggested at the time that the
shooting had been the isolated action of an individual.
Last August, four
rockets fired from southern Lebanon targeted northern Israel, setting off
air-raid sirens in Acre, Nahariya and additional areas in the Western Galilee,
and sending frightened local residents fleeing for cover. Two of the Katyushas
crossed the border and landed in Israel, causing no casualties but some
Sunday’s cross-border fire coincided with heightened political
tension in Beirut after a bomb blast in that city killed Mohamad Chatah, a
former minister and leading adviser to Sunni former prime minister Saad
al-Hariri. Chatah’s funeral was held in Beirut Sunday amid heavy security on
After observing the attack from Lebanon and Israel’s response,
Maj.-Gen. Paolo Serra, the head of the UN Interim Force in Lebanon, immediately
contacted the Lebanese Armed Fo rces and the IDF.
“This is a very serious
incident in violation of UN Security Council resolution 1701 and is clearly
directed at undermining stability in the area,” said Serra. “UNIFIL’s first
imperative is to ensure that there is no further escalation of the situation,
and I have been assured by the parties of their full cooperation with UNIFIL in
this effort and of their continued commitment to the cessation of
“Our troops on the ground are working with the Lebanese
Armed Forces to reinforce security and locate the rocket launching site,” he
“UNIFIL has intensified its patrols across our area of
operations to prevent any further incidents. It is of paramount importance to
identify and apprehend the perpetrators of this attack and we will spare no
efforts to this end working in cooperation with the Lebanese Armed Forces.”
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