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Israel's military said 34 rockets had been fired across the border from Lebanon and 25 were shot down AP

Israeli army carries out strikes on Gaza after rockets fired into Israel from Lebanon

Israel has previously accused Palestinian groups of firing rockets from Lebanon.

LAST UPDATE | 6 Apr 2023

SEVERAL EXPLOSIONS COMING from Gaza were heard by AFP journalists tonight, as the Israeli army said it was carrying out strikes in the area.

The Israeli army “is currently striking in the Gaza Strip,” read an army statement shortly after AFP heard at least three explosions.

A Palestinian security source said the strikes had hit several Hamas training sites.

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres condemned a barrage of rockets fired from Lebanon toward Israel, his spokesman said today, calling on “all actors to exercise maximum restraint.”

“We condemn the multiple rockets being fired from Lebanon into northern Israel today,” Stephane Dujarric told reporters.

Israel has accused Palestinian groups of firing rockets from Lebanon on the Jewish Passover holiday, which coincides with the Muslim holy month of Ramadan this year, just over a day after clashes between Israeli police and Palestinians inside Islam’s third-holiest site.

Dujarric said the UN peacekeeping force in Lebanon was in contact with authorities on both sides and urged all parties to “avoid any unilateral action that could further escalate the situation.”

Israel’s army said it had “identified 34 rockets that were fired from Lebanese territory into Israeli territory” – the largest escalation along the frontier since Israel and Hezbollah fought a 34-day war in 2006.

At the end of an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council requested yesterday by the United Arab Emirates and Japan after the clashes at the Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem, several council members echoed concern over escalation.

Israeli response

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed that Israel’s enemies would “pay the price”.

Israeli army spokesperson Lt. Colonel Richard Hecht blamed Palestinian groups.

“We know for sure it’s Palestinian fire,” he told reporters. “It could be Hamas, it could be Islamic Jihad, we are still trying to finalise but it wasn’t Hezbollah.

“We assume Hezbollah knew about it, and Lebanon also has some responsibility. We are also investigating whether Iran was involved,” he continued.

Lebanon’s caretaker prime minister Najib Mikati said he rejected any “escalation” from his country after the rocket attack.

No faction in Lebanon claimed responsibility for the salvo of rockets, which set off air raid sirens across the country’s north.

A Lebanese security official said the country’s security forces believed the rockets were launched by a Lebanon-based Palestinian militant group, not by Hezbollah militants. The official said there were no casualties on the Lebanese side.

The barrage came after Israeli police drew widespread condemnation from around the region for clashing early Wednesday with Palestinians inside Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa mosque – Islam’s third-holiest site.

The United Nations Security Council “members are clearly united in the need for de-escalation and calm in the region,” said Lana Zaki Nusseibeh, the UAE ambassador to the UN, though the 15 members did not adopt any text or common position in the meeting.

“This is the holy month for the three religions. Escalation is not in anybody’s interest,” Nusseibeh added.

Russian ambassador to the UN Vasily Nebenzia said the council agreed to continue discussing the issue, “perhaps to come up with something more substantial.” He clarified he was not speaking on behalf of the council as its current president.

“The escalation that we’re witnessing is dangerous,” he said.

“Further escalation would not help resolving the current situation in Jerusalem, which in our view, is the precursor of what happens later. These issues are all related,” he added.

Deputy US ambassador Robert Wood said there were diplomatic efforts underway “to try to reduce the tensions and stop the violence and that’s what the goal should be for everyone.”

 – © AFP 2023

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