Lebanon fires rockets across Israeli border


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The Independent Online

Four rockets were fired from southern Lebanon towards Israel today, setting off air raid sirens and startling a nation already on edge over turmoil along its northern and southern fronts.

Brigadier General Yoav Mordechai, the chief military spokesman, said one rocket was shot down by Israel’s “Iron Dome” defence system, while the others did not land in Israeli territory. No one was injured, and Brig Gen  Mordechai dismissed the attack as an “isolated incident”.

Still, the rocket attack added to the nation’s fears as it nervously monitors the fighting in neighbouring Syria, where the government has been accused of using chemical weapons against rebels this week. It’s also worried about Egypt, where Islamic militants have stepped up their activities near the Israeli border in the wake of the military coup.

The Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, said: “We are acting on all fronts, in the north and in the south, to defend the citizens of Israel from such attacks. We employ various measures, both defensive and preventive, and we are acting responsibly. Our policy is clear: to protect and to prevent. Whoever tries to harm us should know we will harm them.”

Lieutenant Colonel Peter Lerner, a military spokesman, said the rockets were fired from south of the Lebanese port city of Tyre. He said light damage to a street and a vehicle in northern Israel was probably caused by debris from the rocket interception. It was an “unprovoked attack on Israeli citizens” but Israel did not retaliate.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack. Lt Col Lerner blamed “global jihad” elements, referring to groups either linked to or inspired by al-Qa’ida. Israel blamed the same elements for a similar rocket attack last week against the southern port city of Eilat. Such groups are also active in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula.

Southern Lebanon was the scene of bitter fighting between Israel and Hezbollah militants in 2006.