Israel launches air strikes on rocket launch sites in southern Lebanon

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Aug 5, 2021: The Israel military says Israeli warplanes hit rocket launching sites in southern Lebanon on Thursday morning, in response to what they say were rockets fired from Lebanon.

The military said in a statement that the launching sites and infrastructure from which the rockets were launched, as well as another target for rocket launches in the past, had been hit by Israeli warplanes. No injuries were reported from either side.

The Iranian-backed Lebanese armed group and the Hezbollah-run TV channel Al-Manar reported that Israel warplanes carried out two airstrikes just after midnight near the Lebanese town of Mahmoudiyah, 12 kilometers from the Israeli border.

The Israel Defence Forces (IDF) alleged the state of Lebanon was responsible for the shelling and warned “against further attempts to harm Israeli civilians and Israel’s sovereignty”.

The overnight airstrikes were a marked escalation at a politically sensitive time. Israel’s new eight-party governing coalition is maintaining a fragile ceasefire that ended an 11-day war with Hamas’s militant rulers in Gaza in the month of May this year.

Several incidents leading up to this week’s rocket fire from Lebanon have focused attention on Israel’s northern border, and the US swiftly condemned the attacks on Israel.

The Lebanese military reported 92 artillery shells were fired by Israel on Lebanese villages as a result of the rocket fire from Lebanon. It said the Israeli artillery shelling resulted in a fire in the village of Rashaya al-Fukhar. In a statement, the Lebanese army also said it was conducting patrols in the border region and had set up a number of checkpoints and opened an investigation to determine the source of the rocket fire.

Lebanese security officials did not immediately confirm the Israeli airstrikes.

The US state department spokesperson Ned Price condemned the rocket fire from Lebanon.

“Israel has the right to defend itself against such attacks,” he told reporters in Washington, adding that the US would remain engaged with partners in the region “in an effort to de-escalate the situation”.

At the United Nations, the spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric said the UN peacekeeping mission in Lebanon, known as Unifil, was aware of the rocket fire and Israel’s artillery response and urged both sides to “exercise maximum restraint to avoid further escalation”.

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