Israel on Thursday escalated its response to this week’s rocket attacks and launched unusual airstrikes over Lebanon, the Army said.
The planes struck sites from where rockets had been launched the previous day, as well as an additional target used to attack Israel in the past, according to the Israeli Army. The military blamed the Lebanese state for the attacks and warned against any further attempts to harm Israeli civilians and Israeli sovereignty.
The overnight airstrikes were a considerable escalation at a sensitive time. Israel’s new eight-party coalition government is trying to maintain peace under a fragile cease-fire that ended an 11-day war with Hamas, the armed group that rules Gaza, last May.
In the past week, several incidents have focused attention on Israel’s northern border. The United States was quick to condemn rocket attacks from Lebanon.
Thursday’s airstrikes occurred at around 2 a.m., according to Hezbollah-owned Al-Manar television. They hit an empty area in the village of Mahmoudiya in the Marjayoun district.
Lebanon is suffering from several crises, including a collapsing economy and a political impasse that has left the country without a functioning government for more than a year.
President Michel Aoun said the Israeli air force attack on Lebanese villages is the first of its kind since 2006 and indicates the presence of growing aggressive intentions against Lebanon. He said in a statement that he will file a complaint with the UN.
The commander of the UN peacekeeping force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), Stefano Del Col, called on the parties to act urgently to ease tensions and prevent violations of the cessation of hostilities in force since 2006.
Avichai Adraee, spokesman in Arabic for the Israeli army, said the Lebanese government is responsible for what happens on its territory and warned against further attacks on Israel from southern Lebanon.
Three rockets were fired into Israeli territory from Lebanon on Wednesday, to which the army responded with artillery fire. Two of the rockets landed in Israeli territory, according to the military.
One of the projectiles exploded in an open space and another was intercepted by the Israeli anti-aircraft defense system, known as Iron Dome, according to Channell 12 television. The attack caused fires near Kiryat Shmona, a town of some 20,000 people near the Lebanese border.
The Lebanese Army counted 92 artillery shells fired by Israel at Lebanese villages in response to the rockets. Israeli fire caused a fire in the village of Rashaya al-Fukhar. In a statement, the Lebanese Army said it patrolled the border area and had opened an investigation into the origin of the rocket fire.