Iranian proxy Hezbollah fired rockets at Israel as risk of escalation looms

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Hezbollah, the Iran-backed Shia Lebanese organisation, claimed responsibility for firing a volley of rockets on Israel’s northern border on Friday, the latest of a series of cross-border strikes that risk stoking regional tensions.

The salvo was significantly larger than previous rocket launches from Lebanon in recent weeks, and the first to be directly claimed by Hezbollah in several years. On Friday afternoon, Israel’s political and security leaders were consulting about how to respond.

Amid rising tensions between Israel and Iran, both Hezbollah and the Israeli military indicated that neither desired any dramatic or imminent escalation and seemed to be trying to defuse the situation. But the Israeli military also said it would not allow attacks on the border to continue unabated.

Less than three hours after the attack, Israeli military spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Amnon Scheffler said, “We do not want to proceed into a full-fledged war, yet we are very prepared for it.”

The Israeli military said 19 rockets were fired from Lebanon, three of which landed in Lebanese territory. Ten more were intercepted by Israeli air defense systems while the rest landed in open areas.

There were no casualties or damage, and the military said it struck back rocket launch sites in Lebanon in what appeared to be an early, implicit response.

The Israeli military announced that civilian life along the border could continue as normal and tourist attractions would remain open. The move signaled a hope that no more major action was imminent at a time when many Israelis are holidaying in the country’s north.

Hezbollah also indicated that its rocket salvo did not intend to break the current balance, noting in a statement that two of its brigades fired “tens” of rockets at “open land” near Israeli sites in the disputed Sheba Farms area. Were.

Sheba Farm – known in Israel as Mount Dov – is a strip of land claimed by Israel, Lebanon, and sometimes Syria, near the crossroads of all three countries adjacent to the Golan Heights.

The group said its rockets were a response to an Israeli airstrike on Thursday, which also struck “open land” in southern Lebanon. The airstrikes were the first by Israel on Lebanese territory in many years.

The attacks came after terrorists fired rockets at Israel on Wednesday for the second time in two weeks. Some past rocket attacks from Lebanon have been attributed to rogue Palestinian groups.

Israeli military spokesman Colonel Scheffler said Friday Hezbollah’s claim of responsibility was probably aimed at showing that the organization still controlled the border area in southern Lebanon and that Israeli airstrikes would go unanswered.

Hezbollah, which fought a disastrous, months-long war with Israel in 2006, also has an open account with Israel, blaming Israel for avenging the killing of one of its henchmen in an attack in Syria a year earlier. was ordained.

As for Hezbollah, killing the operative was a violation of its unwritten rules of engagement with Israel, according to which Israel kills Iranians or Syrians, but only damages Hezbollah equipment, not its people.

Friday’s events were the latest in a long shadow war being waged by land, air and sea between Israel, Iran and its proxies, which is rapidly erupting in the open.

Zvika Hamovich, a retired Israeli general and former commander of the Israel Air Defense Forces, said that both Hezbollah and Israel were trying to act within the established formula of recent years and that keeping its border with Lebanon calm was in Israel’s interest. and “Keep Lebanon out of the game.”

But in what he described as progress in Hezbollah’s Iran-backed program to develop precision missiles in Lebanon, Mr Hamovich said, “We are close to the point where Israel needs to act against Hezbollah in Lebanon.” have to do,” and that the events of the past few days brought that point even closer.

Tensions between Israel and Iran’s allies have escalated on hopes that Israel may soon retaliate for last week’s attack on an Israeli-linked merchant ship in the Indian Ocean. Israel blamed that attack on Iran and is calling for more of an international response as two foreign nationals, a Romanian official and a British security guard, were killed on board.

Significant preparations are underway for an Israeli military response against Iran for the attack on the ship, according to three Israeli officials with knowledge of the decision-making process on national security issues, and who did not wish to be named when discussing sensitive operational topics. asked for.

Preparations intensified after rockets were fired from Lebanon on Wednesday, which Israeli military intelligence believes could not have happened without consent, or at least turning a blind eye by Hezbollah, which usually deals with Iran. would coordinate such an attack.

According to officials, Israel regards these attacks as an attempt by Iran to establish new unwritten rules for engagement with Israel.

Source » granthshala

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