Israel Says Rockets Fired From Lebanon Amid Fear of New Front in Gaza Fight

The Israel Defense Forces have said that a volley of rockets was fired from across the country's northern border with Lebanon, raising concern about a new front home to the powerful Lebanese Hezbollah movement and other factions that support Palestinian fighters already at war in the Gaza Strip.

"A short while ago, three rockets were fired from Lebanon into the Mediterranean Sea off the coast of the Galilee," the IDF said in a statement shared with Newsweek on Thursday. "According to protocol no sirens were sounded."

Asked about the strikes shortly after the news broke, a Hezbollah spokesperson told Newsweek there was no comment yet available.

One Lebanese official told Newsweek the launch was likely conducted by Palestinian factions operating from the refugee camp of Rashidieh located along the coast of southern Lebanon.

The Lebanese Armed Forces had earlier reported an Israeli maritime incursion into Lebanese territory near the border site of Rosh Hanikra, called Ras Al-Naqoura in Arabic, where an Israeli boat reportedly threw a flare. Such violations are relatively common and the Lebanese military reported the incident to the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), which patrols the heated border between the two countries.

In light of the recent reports of rocket attacks, UNIFIL issued a message of deescalation.

"In relation to reports of alleged launch of rockets from Lebanon into Israel, UNIFIL Head of Mission and Force Commander Major General [Stefano] Del Col is in touch with both parties urging maximum restraint and to cooperate with UNIFIL in order to prevent further escalation," the U.N. peacekeeping force said in a statement sent to Newsweek.
"UNIFIL in coordination with the Lebanese Armed Forces is enhancing security control in the area."

UNIFIL spokesperson Andrea Tenneti said that, "as of now, we have no information on the perpetrators."

israel, lebanon, border, aqsa, mosque, hezbollah
A man drives a pick-up truck transporting a replica of Al-Aqsa Mosque's Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem, as members and supporters of Lebanon's Hezbollah and Palestinian refugees take part in a ceremony marking Al-Quds (Jerusalem) Day on a hill by the border in the country's south, facing the Israeli northern town of Metula, on May 7. ALI DIA/AFP/Getty Images

The development came as more than 1,750 rockets have been fired toward Israel in recent days by Palestinian movements such as Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad from the Gaza Strip.

The attacks come in response to an Israeli attempt to evict Palestinians from the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of the disputed city of Jerusalem, confrontations between Israeli security forces and Palestinian protestors and, finally, an Israeli raid of the Al-Aqsa Mosque, the third holiest site in Islam.

Israel has responded by striking what it said was an estimated 600 targets, including what the Israeli military identified as rocket launch sites, senior officials of armed factions including the Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad movements, as well as tunnels and facilities they use for intelligence, planning and weapons manufacturing.

Israel has warred with both Hezbollah and Palestinian forces in southern Lebanon in past decades, conflicts that involved Israeli invasions of the neighboring country. The latest development came shortly before the IDF planned for a potential ground incursion in the Gaza Strip.

Newsweek spoke Wednesday with a Hezbollah spokesperson, who expressed support for the Palestinian fighters in the Gaza Strip, but said outside intervention was not yet necessary.

"Of course, we are supporters," the Hezbollah spokesperson said at the time. "But I don't think they're in need of our people. The numbers are available. All the rockets and capabilities are in the hands of the resistance fighters in Palestine."

Palestinian factions in Lebanon include those aligned with both Hamas and the West Bank-based Fatah, whose leader Palestinian National Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, serves as the de facto head of state for the Palestinian territories. Abbas' recent decision to postpone what would have been the first Palestinian elections in 15 years sparked frustration among Hamas and other opposition groups.

Also operating in Lebanon include is the Syria-based Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine - General Command, against which Israel reportedly conducted airstrikes amid a spike in cross-border unrest in August 2019.