Three rockets were launched from Lebanon towards the territory of Israel, which retaliated with artillery fire, informed the Israeli Army on Wednesday afternoon (4). The attacks come amid rising tensions in the region.
“Three rockets were fired from Lebanon into northern Israel. Two rockets fell into Israeli territory and one into Lebanon,” the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said. “In response, our artillery forces fired at Lebanon.”
Anti-aircraft alarms sounded in several Israeli cities near the border with the Arab country.
Israeli media reports that one rocket exploded in an open area and another was intercepted by the Israeli air defense system, the Iron Dome. The shots caused fires in the Israeli territory that continued to be fought by firefighters in the early hours of Thursday (Wednesday night in Brazil).
Israel stepped up its counterattack against targets in Lebanon late on Wednesday night. Israeli fighter planes attacked areas of the northern border from which the rockets departed, as well as “structures used for terrorism” and a site that was used in the past for rocket firing, the air force said.
The IDF stated that it holds the country of Lebanon responsible for attacks originating in its territory. Israeli officials believe the rockets were fired by Palestinian groups based in Lebanon, not by the militant group Hezbollah, reports the Associated Press. However, Palestinian groups are unlikely to operate at the site without Hezbollah’s consent.
A year of the Beirut explosion
The launch of the rockets comes amid growing tension in the Middle East and on the day Lebanon marks the one-year anniversary of the Beirut port explosion that left more than 200 dead, 6,500 injured and a long trail of destruction . There were protests this Wednesday in the country, which is going through a serious economic crisis and a political stalemate in the government.
An international conference held on Wednesday raised $370 million in humanitarian aid that will be delivered to Lebanon over the next twelve months to help rebuild the country after the explosion, announced French President Emmanuel Macron. The resources will be destined mainly for food, schools, health sector and water supply.
The conference, organized by France and the USA, was attended by 33 governments, as well as international organizations and representatives of the Lebanese society. France has pledged to donate 100 million euros ($118.6 million) and 500,000 doses of Covid-19 vaccines in the coming months. The US government has pledged to send $100 million in humanitarian aid.
Tensions rise in the Middle East
Concern about escalating tensions in the Middle East rose this week after incidents involving oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman.
A group of eight or nine armed men boarded an oil tanker off the coast of the United Arab Emirates, in an incident described by the British navy on Tuesday as “potential hijacking not related to piracy”. The government of Oman confirmed on Wednesday that the Panama-flagged ship was the target of a kidnapping.
The armed group left the ship on Wednesday, the British navy reported. The identity of the kidnappers is unclear, although some countries, including the UK, have accused Iran of supporting the action, which the Iranian government has denied.