No casualties were reported, but the brief incident underscored the fragility of the security situation along the border between Israel and Lebanon.
JERUSALEM – Israeli forces fired several artillery shots into southern Lebanon early Tuesday in response to rockets fired at Israel a few hours earlier by militants in the neighboring country.
No casualties were reported from either side during the skirmish as the projectiles landed largely in open areas. One Lebanese rocket was intercepted by an Israeli missile defense system known as the Iron Dome, while another fell without damage. The Lebanese military later said it had foiled an attempt by terrorists to fire a third rocket.
No faction in Lebanon claimed responsibility for the rockets, but an Israeli military official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said officials believed the rockets were fired by Palestinian militants based in Lebanon.
The incident underscored the fragility of the situation on the Israel-Lebanese border, where there is regular tension between Israeli forces and Hezbollah, an Iran-backed Shia militias that dominates much of southern Lebanon and does not recognize Israel’s sovereignty. is. There are occasional attacks by Palestinian militants based in Lebanon.
Lebanon’s economic crash, and the social instability it has created, has caused some to fear that the security situation on its southern border could be even more unpredictable.
In a speech on Tuesday morning, Israel’s Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said that Lebanon was “on the verge of collapse”, adding, “We will not accept the Lebanese situation as a leak into Israel.”
Israel’s Defense Minister Benny Gantz previously wrote on Twitter that Israel “will not allow the social, political and economic crisis in Lebanon to turn into a security threat to Israel.” He called on the international community to take action to restore stability in Lebanon.
The exchange was the first such clash since mid-May, when Palestinian militants in Lebanon, led by the Islamic group Hamas, fired multiple rockets at Israel in solidarity with militants in Gaza, which at the time had an 11-day air strike with Israel. was in the middle of the war.
Hamas has not fired rockets or incendiary balloons from Gaza into Israel for several weeks, but the dynamics between Hamas and Israel remain volatile. The two sides have yet to finalize a ceasefire agreement that would allow more money and supplies into Gaza, where imports and exports are controlled by Israel and Egypt. Some analysts believe that Palestinian rocket firing from Lebanon is a means of pressure from Hamas.
Israel and factions in Lebanon have a long history of military conflict. Israel invaded Lebanon in 1982 after Lebanon became a base for Palestinian terrorists who attacked Israel. After the Israeli army left Lebanon 18 years later, tensions between Israel and Hezbollah continued, leading to another war and an Israeli land invasion in 2006.
UN peacekeepers operate along the Lebanon-Israeli border, but tensions remain high and there are occasional clashes between different factions. In 2019, Israeli troops discovered that Hezbollah terrorists had tunneled into Israeli territory. Israeli jets regularly fly over Lebanese airspace, often in neighboring Syria to conduct airstrikes against Hezbollah and other Iran-aligned forces fighting in the Syrian civil war.
The most recent reported airstrikes happened late on Monday. A Syrian state news agency said Israeli jets hit a target in northern Syria. The Israeli military declined to comment.
adam rasgon and myra novec contributed reporting from Jerusalem, and Asma al-Omari from Beirut.