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Israel Strikes Lebanon and Gaza After Rocket Attack

Iron Dome
Iron Dome defenses in Israel during a rocket attack launched from Gaza in 2014. Credit: IDF / Wikimedia Commons CC BY 2.0

The Israeli military has targeted units of the militant group Hamas in parts of southern Lebanon and the Gaza Strip with air strikes, following a rocket attack that struck Israel on Thursday.

Israel has said that the military operation was conducted in response to a barrage of 34 rockets launched at northern Israel from Lebanon, on Thursday. Israel has blamed Hamas for the attack.

Militants in Gaza have responded to the air strikes by launching rockets at targets in Israel. The sudden spike in violence comes just days after Israeli police raided the al-Aqsa mosque, amid growing tensions between Israelis and Palestinians.

Israel conducts air strikes in Lebanon and Gaza

On Friday, the IDF (Israeli Defense Forces) posted an operational update on Twitter explaining why air strikes had been conducted against targets in southern Lebanon.

“The IDF struck targets including terrorist infrastructures belonging to Hamas in southern Lebanon,” says the tweet by the IDF.

“The IDF will not allow the Hamas terrorist organization to operate from within Lebanon & hold the state of Lebanon responsible for every directed fire emanating from its territory,” it continued.

Hamas responded by saying that it strongly condemned “the blatant Zionist aggression against Lebanon in the vicinity of Tyre at dawn today.”

According to the IDF, over 10 targets belonging to Hamas in Gaza were struck, which included a weapons manufacturing site, three additional workshops for weapons, and a subterranean “terrorist tunnel.”

The IDF also reported that its jets had successfully struck three infrastructure sites belonging to Hamas in southern Lebanon at approximately 4:00 in the morning.

Israel says that the airstrikes were in response to rocket attacks launched by Hamas from Lebanon and Gaza. The IDF reported that 34 rockets were launched at positions in northern Israel, of which 25 were intercepted by Israel’s Iron Dome air defense system.

The rocket attack was the largest incidence since 2006 when IDF locked horns with Hezbollah during the Lebanon War.

“Israel’s response, tonight and later, will exact a significant price from our enemies,” said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu after a security cabinet meeting.

Tensions and violence

The military actions took place amid an increasingly tense security situation in Israel and Palestine.

Earlier this week, Israeli police twice stormed the al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem – one of the holiest sites for Muslims – and arrested hundreds of Palestinian Muslims. The police raids prompted strong condemnations from Arab and majority-Muslim states in the Greater Middle East Region.

The Israeli police officers who conducted the raids have been accused of using excessive force, with reports of the use of batons and rubber bullets. The police maintain that their actions were necessary to deal with “hundreds of rioters and mosque desecrators” who “barricaded themselves” inside the building.

In the aftermath of the incident, Hamas released a statement saying “We hold the Zionist occupation fully responsible for the grave escalation and the flagrant aggression against the Gaza Strip and for the consequences that will bring onto the region.”

Israeli intelligence and security officials now believe that the rocket attacks against Israel were launched from Gaza and Lebanon as retaliation for the events that transpired at the al-Aqsa mosque.

They also believe that Hezbollah likely granted Hamas permission to go ahead with the strikes.

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