The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) sources have reported on Thursday morning, July 6th, that Lebanese forces fired rockets from within Lebanese territory. Said rockets ended up exploding near the Blue Line, the disputed border and military withdrawal line between Lebanon and Israel. Although statements saying that no incident happened in official Israeli territory were found on the Twitter account of Israel’s military spokesperson, the same statements also added that explosions had taken place beyond the Blue Line. The Lebanese army, on the other hand, did not undertake any of the claims made by the IDF. Sources from Lebanon also declared that one of the rockets hit near Wizzani in Lebanese territory and the other hit Ghajar, near the disputed border. The rockets were inspected upon the request of the IDF. The IDF backed its request with its wish to determine the type of ammunition used and insisted on knowing by whom and why the rockets could have been fired. They also wanted to find out whether the firing was intentional or not.
As a response, the Israel Defense Forces have made a public statement clarifying that they would strike the area from which the launch of rockets was carried out by Lebanese forces. Lebanon’s state news agency, NNA, reported that more than 15 artillery shells fired by IDF hit empty fields nearby Lebanese villages, mainly Kfar Chouba and Halta. However, the NNA’s report has not been confirmed by the Israeli part. The Foreign Ministry of Lebanon was not friendly with the counterattack. They accused the IDF of violating Lebanese sovereignty and the UN Security Council Resolution 1701, which was developed to conclude the Second Lebanon War. Officials from Lebanon also claimed that Israel was blocking Lebanese civilian entry to Ghajar.
Not the first time.
The last time a similar event occurred was this April. Rockets from Lebanon had been found to be shot towards Israel. Three people were wounded along with many damaged buildings. Israel blamed Palestinian group Hamas for the said incident in April, which also had Israeli counter-attacks involved. Hours later after the rocket incident, a shooting in West Bank- Israeli occupied Palestinian territory — as reported by Israeli sources, drew the attention of public. According to emergency resources, one person was severely injured. It is also noteworthy that the incident took place a short while after Israel ended its military operation in Jenin, West Bank. Said operation was regarded as one of the most critical and largest operations of Israel: the attention given by the media to the treatment of Palestinian civilians and to the intensity of the raid was most notable.
Many responses triggered.
Iran-backed Lebanese Hezbollah, the self-proclaimed Shia Islamist political party and militant organization, had shown verbal support for Palestine during the operation in Jenin. Despite Hezbollah staying silent about the rockets shot from Lebanon this once, they separately expressed strong condemn for Israeli counteractions in Ghajar which they define as “dangerous measures.” Hezbollah also accused Israel of building fences and cement walls. Israel has not responded to the accusations.
After the appeasement of the situation, eyes turned to the United Nations’ peacekeeping forces in the south of Lebanon. UN peacekeeping forces warned both sides to approach the incident with restraint to avoid any escalations in the area. Keeping in mind that the area had been subject to many other similar incidents and armed conflict in the past, it is said both sides “have a lot to lose” if any major escalations occur.
The rockets have caused severe distress in Israel. Current Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu plans to gather the Security Cabinet of Israel for the first time in two months. His two main objectives are to tackle the tension bloomed after the incident while also providing ease after the military operation in Jenin. The current Defense Minister of Israel, Yoav Gallant, highlighted the importance of Israel’s sovereignty at the memorial ceremony for soldiers of the South Lebanon army. Gallant also expressed concern for Lebanon under the influence of Hezbollah and Iran.
Israel was not the only part to worry, however. The current Prime Minister of Lebanon, Najib Mikati met with Joseph Aoun, the commander of the Lebanese Armed Forces, to keep the incident in his close examination. Mikati later met with the Foreign Minister Abdullah Bou Habib, UN Special Coordinator for Lebanon Joanna Wronecka, and the commander of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), Aroldo Lázaro. A few hours after Israel counterattacked, UNIFIL announced that they had been in contact with both sides and doing their best to relieve tension.
Rockets shot from Lebanese territory elicited many differing reactions from various fronts, given the fact that the controversial Blue Line was involved. IDF’s strike of Lebanon remains critical for the relations between two countries, as well as the destiny of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict which is arguably one of the crucial issues in the Middle East.
Forces, Israel Defense. “a Launch Was Carried out from Lebanese Territory and Exploded Adjacent to the Blue Line in Israeli Territory. in Response, the IDF Is Currently Striking the Area from Which the Launch Was Carried out in Lebanese Territory.” Twitter, 6 July 2023, twitter.com/IDF/status/1676882321373315088?s=20.
“IDF Strikes Lebanese Targets after Rockets Fired toward Israel.” The Jerusalem Post, 6 July 2023, https://www.jpost.com/breaking-news/article-749047.
“Israel Attacks Launch Site in Lebanon after Rockets ‘Fired.’” Al Jazeera, 8 July 2023, https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2023/7/6/israel-attacks-launch-site-in-lebanon-after-rockets-fired.
Unifil. “This Incident Comes at a Sensitive Time and in an Area That Has Already Experienced Tensions Earlier This Week. We Urge Everyone to Exercise Restraint and Avoid Any Action That Could Cause Further Escalation. (3/3).” Twitter, 6 July 2023, twitter.com/UNIFIL_/status/1676907203423264768?s=20.