Israeli strikes target Hamas in Lebanon and Gaza after rocket attack

GAZA CITY – Flames rise from the realm after Israeli warplanes launched airstrikes on the central a part of the Gaza Strip, on April 07, 2023.

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Israel’s army hit websites in Lebanon and Gaza early on Friday, in retaliation for rocket assaults it blamed on the Islamist group Hamas, as tensions following police raids this week on the Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem threatened to spiral uncontrolled.

Loud blasts rocked completely different areas of Gaza, as Israel mentioned its jets hit 10 targets together with tunnels and weapons manufacturing and improvement websites of Hamas, which controls the blockaded southern coastal strip.

At round 4.00 a.m., the army mentioned it had additionally struck three Hamas infrastructure targets in southern Lebanon, the place residents across the space of the Rashidiyeh refugee camp close to the southern metropolis of Tyre reported three loud blasts.

“We strongly condemn the blatant Zionist aggression in opposition to Lebanon within the neighborhood of Tyre at daybreak right now,” Hamas mentioned.

Two Lebanese safety sources mentioned the strike hit a small construction on farmland close to the realm from which the rockets had been launched earlier.

The strike appeared to have left a big crater in farmland within the south, based on Reuters witnesses.

A member of Lebanon’s Civil Protection on the scene on Friday morning mentioned there have been no casualties.

The strikes got here in response to rocket assaults from Lebanon in the direction of northern Israeli areas, which Israeli officers blamed on Hamas. The army mentioned 34 rockets had been launched from Lebanon, of which 25 had been intercepted by air defence techniques. It was the most important such assault since 2006, when Israel fought a conflict with the closely armed Hezbollah motion.

“Israel’s response, tonight and later, will precise a big value from our enemies,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu mentioned following a safety cupboard assembly.

Because the Israeli jets struck in Gaza, salvoes of rockets had been fired in response and sirens sounded in Israeli cities and cities in bordering areas.

Nonetheless there have been no studies of significant casualties and just one rocket hit a goal, damaging a home within the southern city of Sderot.

The crossborder strikes got here amid an escalating confrontation over Israeli police raids on the Al-Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalem through the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which this yr coincides with the Jewish Passover vacation.

“We maintain the Zionist occupation totally liable for the grave escalation and the flagrant aggression in opposition to the Gaza Strip and for the results that may carry onto the area,” Hamas mentioned in an announcement.

Though Israel blamed Hamas for Thursday’s assault, which happened as Hamas head Ismail Haniyeh was visiting Lebanon, safety consultants mentioned Hezbollah, the highly effective Shi’ite group which helps Israel’s predominant enemy Iran venture its energy throughout the area, will need to have given its permission.

“It isn’t Hezbollah taking pictures, nevertheless it’s onerous to consider that Hezbollah did not find out about it,” Tamir Hayman, a former head of Israeli army intelligence, mentioned on Twitter.

Lebanon’s Prime Minister Najib Mikati issued an announcement condemning any army operations from its territory that threatened stability however there was no quick remark from Hezbollah. Earlier on Thursday, earlier than the rockets had been fired, senior Hezbollah official Hashem Safieddine mentioned any infringement on Al-Aqsa “will inflame the complete area”.

UNIFIL, the U.N. peacekeeping mission in Lebanon, mentioned it had been in touch with the events and mentioned each side had mentioned they didn’t search conflict nevertheless it mentioned the scenario risked escalation and urged all events to halt their actions.

An Israeli army spokesman mentioned the Israeli operation was over for the second. “No person desires an escalation proper now,” he informed reporters. “Quiet might be answered with quiet, at this stage I believe, at the least within the coming hours.”

U.S. condemns rocket assaults

Palestinian factions in Lebanon, which have a presence within the refugee camps, have fired sporadically on Israel previously. However the border space has been largely quiet because the 2006 conflict with Hezbollah.

The U.S. State Division condemned the launch of rockets from Lebanon and earlier strikes from Gaza and mentioned Israel had the suitable to defend itself.

Nevertheless it additionally expressed concern on the scenes within the Al-Aqsa mosque, the place Israeli police had been filmed beating worshippers throughout raids that officers mentioned had been to dislodge teams of younger males who had barricaded themselves contained in the mosque.

The Al-Aqsa compound in Jerusalem’s Outdated Metropolis is Islam’s third holiest web site, the place a whole lot of 1000’s pray throughout Ramadan. Identified to Jews as Temple Mount, the situation of the 2 biblical Jewish temples, additionally it is Judaism’s most sacred web site, though non-Muslims should not allowed to hope there.

It has lengthy been a flashpoint for tensions. Clashes there in 2021 helped to set off a 10-day conflict between Israel and Gaza.

There was widespread anger amongst Palestinians within the occupied West Financial institution and Gaza over the police actions in addition to condemnation from throughout the Arab world.

Late on Thursday, police mentioned there have been additionally disturbances in a lot of Arab cities in Israel itself, together with Umm el-Fahem, Sakhnin and Nazareth.

Plumes of smoke

The worsening safety scenario provides an extra complication for Netanyahu’s religious-nationalist authorities, which has confronted mass protests over its now-suspended plans to curb the powers of the Supreme Court docket.

Nonetheless, opposition chief Yair Lapid mentioned the federal government may depend on cross-party assist following the rocket assault and Netanyahu mentioned Israelis stood behind the safety forces.

“The inner debate in Israel is not going to forestall us from taking motion in opposition to them wherever and every time needed. All of us, with out exception, are united on this,” Netanyahu mentioned.

Within the aftermath of Thursday’s rocket assault, TV footage confirmed giant plumes of smoke rising above the northern Israeli border city of Shlomi, with wrecked automobiles within the streets. Israel Airports Authority mentioned it had closed the northern airports in Haifa and Rosh Pina.

“I am shaking, I am in shock,” Liat Berkovitch Kravitz informed Israel’s Channel 12 information, talking from a fortified room in her home in Shlomi. “I heard a growth, it was as if it exploded contained in the room.”

The Israeli army mentioned mortar shells had been additionally fired throughout the border.

Amid fears that the confrontation may spiral additional following a yr of rising Israeli-Palestinian violence, the U.N. Safety Council held a closed door assembly to debate the disaster.

“It is going to be vital for everybody to do what they will to calm tensions,” U.S. Deputy Ambassador to the United Nations, Robert Wooden, informed reporters on his means into the assembly.

Thursday’s assault adopted a lot of rocket launches in the direction of Israel from Gaza, most of which had been intercepted. Israel responded to the launches with airstrikes on websites linked to Hamas, which it holds liable for any assaults from the blockaded coastal strip.

Talking from Gaza, Mohammad Al-Braim, spokesman for the Palestinian Well-liked Resistance Committees, praised the rocket strikes from Lebanon, which he linked to the Al-Aqsa incidents, however didn’t declare accountability.

He mentioned “no Arab and no Muslim would hold silent whereas (Al-Aqsa) is being raided in such a savage and barbaric means with out the enemy paying the value for its aggression.”

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