Is­rael tar­gets Pales­tinian group

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - WORLD - By AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE in Jerusalem

The Is­raeli air force struck a Pales­tinian group in Le­banon on Fri­day, of­fi­cials said, hours af­ter a dif­fer­ent or­ga­ni­za­tion said it fired four rock­ets at the Jewish state from Le­banon.

Is­raeli air­craft “tar­geted a ter­ror site lo­cated be­tween Beirut and Si­don in re­sponse to a bar­rage of four rock­ets launched at north­ern Is­rael yes­ter­day (Thurs­day),” the mil­i­tary said.

“The pi­lots re­ported di­rect hits to the tar­get.”

Le­banon’s NNA news agency said the tar­get was a po­si­tion of the Pop­u­lar Front for the Lib­er­a­tion of Pales­tine

Gen­eral Com­mand, a hard­line but sec­u­lar mil­i­tant group which said it had noth­ing to do with Thurs­day’s rocket fire.

A spokesman of the mil­i­tant group con­firmed on Fri­day that one of its bases south of Beirut was hit by an Is­raeli rocket which caused a five-me­ter crater, but said it caused no in­juries or sig­nif­i­cant dam­age, Le­banon’s Al-Ma­nar Tele­vi­sion re­ported.

The salvo of four rock­ets for Is­rael, which also caused dam­age but no ca­su­al­ties, was claimed by the Ab­dul­lah Az­zam Bri­gades an al-Qaida-linked group which claimed sim­i­lar rocket fire on Is­rael in 2009 and 2011.

Is­raeli army spokesman Bri­gadier Gen­eral Yoav Mordechai said on Thurs­day that the rock­ets were “launched by the global ji­had ter­ror or­ga­ni­za­tion” an ap­par­ent ref­er­ence to al-Qaida.

Is­raeli Prime Min­is­ter Ben­jamin Ne­tanyahu had threat­ened re­tal­i­a­tion. “Any­one who harms us, or tries to harm us, should know we will strike them,” he said on Thurs­day.

Two of the four rock­ets fired from Le­banon on Thurs­day hit pop­u­lated ar­eas of north­ern Is­rael, caus­ing dam­age but no ca­su­al­ties.

One struck in Gesher Haziv, a kib­butz east of the Mediter­ranean coastal town of Na­hariya, AFP cor­re­spon­dents re­ported. An­other hit Shavie Zion, a vil­lage be­tween Na­hariya and Acre, fur­ther south, Is­raeli me­dia said.

A third rocket was in­ter­cepted by Is­rael’s Iron Dome de­fense sys­tem, the army said. The fourth ap­par­ently struck out­side Is­rael.

Thurs­day’s at­tack was the first of its kind since Novem­ber 2011, when the same Pales­tinian ji­hadist group fired a vol­ley of rock­ets from south­ern Le­banon at Is­rael. That fire too pro­voked re­tal­i­a­tion by the Is­raeli mil­i­tary.

De­fense sources said that the Pales­tinian group base hit was in the Naameh val­ley. The Pales­tinian group has a num­ber of heav­ily for­ti­fied po­si­tions in Le­banon.

Spokesman for the mil­i­tant group Ramez Mustapha de­nied any link be­tween his group and the rock­ets fired at Is­rael on Thurs­day.

In its Fri­day state­ment, the Is­raeli army again said it “holds the Le­banese govern­ment ac­count­able for the at­tack”.

On Thurs­day, Le­banese Pres­i­dent Michel Sleiman de­scribed the rocket fire as a vi­o­la­tion of UN res­o­lu­tions and of Le­banese sovereignty, and urged se­cu­rity forces to hunt down the per­pe­tra­tors and bring them to jus­tice.

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