Israeli strikes goal Hamas in Lebanon and Gaza after rocket assault By Reuters
By Henriette Chacar and Nidal al-Mughrabi
JERUSALEM/GAZA (Reuters) -Israel’s army hit websites in Lebanon and Gaza early on Friday, in retaliation for rocket assaults it blamed on the Islamist group Hamas, as tensions following police raids this week on the Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem threatened to spiral uncontrolled.
Loud blasts rocked completely different areas of Gaza, as Israel mentioned its jets hit targets together with tunnels and weapons manufacturing websites of Hamas, which controls the blockaded southern coastal strip, in addition to a heavy machine gun used for anti-aircraft hearth.
As dawn neared, the army mentioned it had additionally struck Hamas targets in southern Lebanon, the place residents across the space of the Rashidiyeh refugee camp reported three loud blasts.
Two Lebanese safety sources mentioned the strike hit a small construction on farmland close to the world from which the rockets had been launched earlier. They’d no reviews of casualties.
The strikes got here in response to rocket assaults from Lebanon in direction of northern Israeli areas, which Israeli officers blamed on Hamas. The army mentioned 34 rockets have been launched from Lebanon, of which 25 have been intercepted by air defence programs. It was the largest such assault since 2006, when Israel fought a struggle with the closely armed Hezbollah motion.
“Israel’s response, tonight and later, will precise a major value from our enemies,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu mentioned following a safety cupboard assembly.
Because the Israeli jets struck in Gaza, salvoes of rockets have been fired in response and sirens sounded in Israeli cities and cities in bordering areas, nonetheless there have been no reviews of significant casualties.
The crossborder strikes got here amid an escalating confrontation over Israeli police raids on the Al-Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalem through the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which this yr coincides with the Jewish Passover vacation.
“We maintain the Zionist occupation absolutely liable for the grave escalation and the flagrant aggression in opposition to the Gaza Strip and for the results that can carry onto the area,” Hamas mentioned in a press release.
Though Israel blamed Hamas for Thursday’s assault, which occurred as Hamas head Ismail Haniyeh was visiting Lebanon, safety consultants mentioned Hezbollah, the highly effective Shi’ite group which helps Israel’s predominant enemy Iran venture its energy throughout the area, will need to have given its permission.
“It is not Hezbollah taking pictures, nevertheless it’s exhausting to imagine that Hezbollah did not learn about it,” Tamir Hayman, a former head of Israeli army intelligence, mentioned on Twitter.
Lebanon’s Prime Minister Najib Mikati issued a press release condemning any army operations from its territory that threatened stability however there was no rapid remark from Hezbollah. Earlier on Thursday, earlier than the rockets have been fired, senior Hezbollah official Hashem Safieddine mentioned any infringement on Al-Aqsa “will inflame your complete area”.
UNIFIL, the U.N. peacekeeping mission in Lebanon, mentioned it had been in touch with the events and mentioned each side had mentioned they didn’t search struggle nevertheless it mentioned the scenario risked escalation.
“We urge all events to stop all actions throughout the Blue Line now,” it mentioned, referring to the frontier demarcation between the 2 international locations.
U.S. CONDEMNS ROCKET ATTACKS
Palestinian factions in Lebanon, which have a presence within the refugee camps, have fired sporadically on Israel previously. However the border space has been largely quiet for the reason that 2006 struggle with Hezbollah.
The U.S. State Division condemned the launch of rockets from Lebanon and earlier strikes from Gaza and mentioned Israel had the correct to defend itself.
Nevertheless it additionally expressed concern on the scenes within the Al-Aqsa mosque, the place Israeli police have been filmed beating worshippers throughout raids that officers mentioned have been to dislodge teams of younger males who had barricaded themselves contained in the mosque.
The Al-Aqsa compound in Jerusalem’s Outdated Metropolis is Islam’s third holiest website, the place a whole bunch of 1000’s pray throughout Ramadan. Recognized to Jews as Temple Mount, the situation of the 2 biblical Jewish temples, it’s also Judaism’s most sacred website, though non-Muslims are usually not allowed to wish there.
It has lengthy been a flashpoint for tensions. Clashes there in 2021 helped to set off a 10-day struggle between Israel and Gaza.
There was widespread anger amongst Palestinians within the occupied West Financial institution and Gaza over the police actions in addition to condemnation from throughout the Arab world.
Late on Thursday, police mentioned there have been additionally disturbances in numerous Arab cities in Israel itself, together with Umm el-Fahem, Sakhnin and Nazareth.
PLUMES OF SMOKE
The worsening safety scenario provides an extra complication for Netanyahu’s religious-nationalist authorities, which has confronted mass protests over its now-suspended plans to curb the powers of the Supreme Court docket.
Nevertheless, opposition chief Yair Lapid mentioned the federal government may depend on cross-party help following the rocket assault and Netanyahu mentioned Israelis stood behind the safety forces.
“The interior debate in Israel won’t forestall us from taking motion in opposition to them wherever and at any time when vital. All of us, with out exception, are united on this,” Netanyahu mentioned.
Within the aftermath of Thursday’s rocket assault, TV footage confirmed massive plumes of smoke rising above the northern Israeli border city of Shlomi, with wrecked automobiles within the streets. Israel Airports Authority mentioned it had closed the northern airports in Haifa and Rosh Pina.
“I am shaking, I am in shock,” Liat Berkovitch Kravitz advised Israel’s Channel 12 information, talking from a fortified room in her home in Shlomi. “I heard a growth, it was as if it exploded contained in the room.”
The Israeli army mentioned mortar shells have been additionally fired throughout the border.
Amid fears that the confrontation may spiral additional following a yr of rising Israeli-Palestinian violence, the U.N. Safety Council held a closed door assembly to debate the disaster.
“It may be necessary for everybody to do what they’ll to calm tensions,” U.S. Deputy Ambassador to the United Nations, Robert Wooden, advised reporters on his method into the assembly.
Thursday’s assault adopted numerous rocket launches in direction of Israel from Gaza, most of which have been intercepted. Israel responded to the launches with airstrikes on websites linked to Hamas, which it holds liable for any assaults from the blockaded coastal strip.
Talking from Gaza, Mohammad Al-Braim, spokesman for the Palestinian Well-liked Resistance Committees, praised the rocket strikes from Lebanon, which he linked to the Al-Aqsa incidents, however didn’t declare accountability.
He mentioned “no Arab and no Muslim would maintain silent whereas (Al-Aqsa) is being raided in such a savage and barbaric method with out the enemy paying the worth for its aggression.”