Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Why Rockets Fired from Lebanon Don't Open a New Front for Israel

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Why Rockets Fired from Lebanon Don't Open a New Front for Israel

Article excerpt

This story was updated at 2:48 p.m.

A short-range rocket fired from southern Lebanon that struck northern Israel early Friday appears to be a symbolic gesture of support for Gaza, rather than a warning salvo.

A small-scale attack from Lebanon was widely anticipated given the escalation between Israel and Hamas in recent days, but it is unlikely that the Lebanon-Israel front will deteriorate further. Shiite militant group Hezbollah, the most powerful military force in Lebanon, is deeply engaged in Syria's grueling civil war on behalf of the regime and does not want to open a front with Israel.

Israel appears to see the attack as an isolated incident that doesn't merit an escalation along its northern border- the shells it fired in response targeted an unpopulated forested hillside between two villages.

The rocket, a 107mm Grad, was launched from an olive grove five miles north of the border, near the village of Mari, and exploded in an open area near Kfar Yuval a few hundred yards inside Israel. There were no reports of casualties or damage.

The Lebanese army said that three rockets were fired - one struck Israel and a second exploded at the launch site. The army reportedly found bloodstains and a ripped shoe, suggesting that one of the perpetrators was injured in the premature explosion. The whereabouts of the third rocket remains unclear. Israel said only rocket landed on its territory, while the Lebanese army said it had defused two rockets that had been set for firing.

On Friday evening, Lebanese news reports said a man from a nearby Sunni village was arrested after confessing that he had launched the rockets with two Palestinian accomplices. News reports said that the suspect was a member of an "extremist group," a term that usually refers to Al Qaeda-inspired factions rather than Hezbollah.

Israeli Lt. Col. Peter Lerner told the Associated Press that militants in Lebanon may seek to join the conflict between Hamas and Israel but it was still unclear whether the rocket fire from Lebanon was "symbolic or something more substantial."

Lebanese parliamentarians condemned Israel's artillery fire into south Lebanon and questioned the motives behind the rocket launch. …

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