'We're carefully monitoring s. Lebanon'

Ashkenazi calls on Israelis to vacation in North, says weekend Katyusha attacks not indication of war.

ashkenazi home front 248.88 (photo credit: IDF)
ashkenazi home front 248.88
(photo credit: IDF)
Despite the Katyusha attacks on Israel over the weekend from southern Lebanon and evidence of ongoing Hizbullah efforts to rearm in possible preparation for a future confrontation with Israel, the Galilee is safe and should be a preferred destination for Israeli vacationers, IDF Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi said on Tuesday. "We are paying close attention to the events on the northern side of the border, and we therefore responded to the launching of Katyushas immediately and proportionately," Ashkenazi said during a Rosh Hashana toast at the Northern Command headquarters, attended by military personnel as well as local municipality heads. On Friday, two Katyusha rockets launched from southern Lebanon landed near Nahariya. The IDF fired about 15 artillery shells at the source of the shooting immediately afterward. "The Lebanese army and government are responsible for preventing such attacks. Everyone wants quiet, but we are prepared. We have our eyes open and are following the events in southern Lebanon. The explosion in the hidden weapons cache [in July] proved that Hizbullah is still in the process of rearming. I can't see an interest on their behalf to end the situation, so we won't be complacent," he assured. "The North is safe. I recommend vacationing in the Galilee. My family and I have plans to be here for the holiday, and I invite all Israelis to come and experience the views and get to know the wonderful people living here," Ashkenazi added. A terror group said to be affiliated with al-Qaida claimed Monday morning that it had launched Friday's attack. A statement cited Israel's Gaza blockade and the restrictions on Muslims wishing to pray at the Temple Mount's Aksa Mosque. The statement was signed by the Ziad al-Jarrah division of the Abdullah Azzam Brigades, and the statement's headline linked the organization to al-Qaida. On Saturday, Lebanese media reported that the rockets were fired by four men who arrived to a village near Tyre by pick-up truck, positioned the rockets on launchers, set up timers and escaped. Israel reportedly called homes throughout Lebanon and warned residents that the IDF reserved the right to respond to Friday's attack. The army released a statement saying that Israel holds the Lebanese government responsible for terrorist attacks that originate from its sovereign territory. Yaakov Katz contributed to this report.