Four rockets fired from southern Lebanon targeted northern Israel on Thursday afternoon, 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 damage.IDF Spokesman Brig.-Gen. Yoav Mordechai announced that the Iron Dome rocket defense system intercepted a third rocket between Acre and Nahariya.One missile hit Kibbutz Gesher Haziv, damaging a road and vehicles parked on it. Another projectile landed in a built-up community in the Western Galilee. There were no injuries in the attack, Magen David Adom paramedics said. Local residents reported that one rocket fell close to a home in which dozens of Holocaust survivors reside.Two residents suffered shock and were taken to Nahariya’s Western Galilee Hospital.“I heard a weak explosion, and then in parallel to the siren, I heard a stronger boom,” Keinan Engel, a resident of Nahariya, told Army Radio. “I went to take cover in a reinforced room.”No group claimed responsibility, but according to the army’s initial assessments, global jihad elements in Lebanon, not Hezbollah, fired the rockets. The IDF did not return fire.
The rockets were fired from just south of the Lebanese city of Tyre. It was unclear where the fourth rocket hit.The Home Front Command instructed residents of the North to proceed as normal, adding that no special safety instructions were in place.The message is part of the IDF’s assessment that the rocket fire was an isolated incident and did not mark the start of an escalation of violence.The United States called for “restraint” from both Lebanon and Israel.“We strongly condemn the firing of rockets from Lebanon toward Israel,” State Department spokeswoman Dina Badawy told The Jerusalem Post. “This was a provocative act that undermines the stability of Lebanon and the security of Israel.”Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu responded to Thursday’s rocket attack from Lebanon by saying Israel was working on all fronts to protect its citizens.“We are deploying a wide range of means, both defensive and preventative,” he said in a statement. “We are acting responsibly. Anyone who attacks us, or tries to attack us, should know that we will get him.”MK Mordechai Yogev (Bayit Yehudi) urged the government to retaliate for the rocket fire on the North.According to Yogev, the government cannot leave the attack without a response, “because this is the reality that the other side understands.”“The response must be very strong so that the other side has no desire to continue the escalation,” Yogev added.The Bayit Yehudi MK, a member of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, pointed out that Hezbollah stockpiled weapons in the seven years since the Second Lebanon War and has tens of thousands of missiles, which, he said, could lead to a confrontation to ensure the safety of residents of the North.“Syria acted quickly and determinedly through their allies, Hezbollah, to distract international pressure from the gas attacks and massacres on children in Damascus,” MK Nachman Shai (Labor) stated. “Israel must act carefully and responsibly.”Badawy called the rocket fire a violation of the Blue Line, as prescribed by UN Security Council Resolution 1701.The State Department could not immediately confirm the source of the rocket fire or details of the incident, Badawy said.“We again strongly underscore the need for Lebanon to exercise full sovereignty over its territory,” she said.A UN spokesman said that “UNIFIL [United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon] is aware of the reports and the mission has sent one of its helicopters to investigate the incident. The force commander is also in contact with various parties and has called for restraint.”The Lebanese Army and UNIFIL are to launch an investigation into the earlier rocket barrage fired from southern Lebanon into Israel on Thursday, Lebanon’s Daily Star reported.According to the report, the Lebanese army confirmed the attack in a statement, saying four Katyusha rockets were fired from Tyre into Israel at 4:50 p.m.The Star quoted anonymous sources as stating UNIFIL inspected the launch sites, which were cordoned off by Lebanese authorities.UNIFIL spokeswoman Antoinette Midday said peacekeepers were still in the phase of analysis, adding that the UN force would contact both the Lebanese and the Israeli sides to restore calm, the Star reported.Meanwhile, Lebanese President Michel Suleiman condemned the rocket fire from south Lebanon, describing the incident as a violation of Resolution 1701 and Lebanon’s sovereignty.Suleiman asked relevant agencies to apprehend those responsible for the attack and refer them to the judiciary, the Star quoted his office as stating.Following the rocket attacks, the Airports Authority announced that all flights into and out of Haifa airport would be temporarily suspended in light of the latest developments. The air space over Haifa was expected to reopen on Friday.Herb Keinon, Maya Shwayder and Jerusalem Post staff contributed to this report.