Israel mostly intercepted a barrage of rockets from Lebanon on Thursday, which was the most sustained attack since a 2006 war, and a day after a spike in tensions in Gaza and Jerusalem that coincided with religious holidays.
At least 34 rockets were fired into northern Israel from Lebanon, of which 25 were successfully intercepted, according to initial information from the Israeli army. Five rockets landed in Israeli territory.
Two people in the Galilee region were injured, including a man hit by shrapnel and a woman as she ran to a shelter, Israeli medical aid society Magen David Adom said.
“It is the largest barrage of rockets from Lebanon since 2006,” said Maj. General Amos Yadlin, a former head of Israeli military intelligence.
The decision on how to respond “will be made in the coming hours,” he told journalists in an online briefing. A “full-scale war” is likely to be avoided, he said.
The fresh confrontation coincides with an escalation in Israel’s shadow war with its main regional enemy Iran, which supports militant groups committed to Israel’s destruction like Hezbollah in Lebanon and Islamic Jihad in the Palestinian territories.
“We remain extremely concerned by the continuing violence and we urge all sides to avoid further escalation,” a spokesperson for the US National Security Council said. President Joe Biden has been briefed and US officials continue their dialogue with their Israeli counterparts on this and other issues, the spokesperson added.
Hezbollah, as well as Palestinian groups, have been behind past rocket attacks from Lebanon. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will meet later Thursday with the inner security cabinet, his office said. It sets important defense and foreign policy, including having the authority to order serious military activity.
Tensions have been building with the week-long Jewish Passover holiday, overlapping with the holy Muslim month of Ramadan. Late Wednesday, renewed clashes broke out between Israeli police and Palestinians inside the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, a flashpoint.
The state-run Lebanese news agency said Israel struck back with artillery fire. Sirens sounded in the towns of Shlomi and Moshav Betzet and in the Galilee region.
Earlier, seven surface-to-air rockets exploded in mid-air without being intercepted after being launched from Gaza toward southern Israel and the Gaza Strip Sea, the Israeli military said.
Israeli police used force to remove people at Al-Aqsa, which lies in a hillside spot sacred for both Muslims and Jews and has sparked conflict in the past, for the second time Wednesday. They said they intervened in the compound after mostly masked men tried to barricade themselves inside, throwing stones and fireworks.
The last conflict with Hamas was 11-day fighting that took place in May 2021.
Rockets Wednesday flew toward the Israeli city of Sderot and were shot down by Israel. Hamas denounced the Israeli police action at Al-Aqsa, having earlier urged Palestinians to go to the holy site and barricade themselves in to prevent Jews who might seek to enter as part of Passover observance.
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