Rockets fired from Lebanon into Israel

JERUSALEM — Two Katyusha rockets fired from southern Lebanon struck northern Israel Friday, near the city of Nahariya. There were no injuries or damage, Israeli police said.

The Israeli military responded by firing between 12 and 15 artillery shells toward the suspected launching site, military sources said.

While no group has claimed responsibility, Israel Radio said a group associated with Global Jihad is suspected of being behind the fire. Lebanese media reported the rockets were fired from the town of Qlaileh and that Israel directed its artillery fire toward the town.

The Israel Defense Forces said in a statement that it views the Lebanese government and the Lebanese military as "accountable to prevent such attacks."

The exchange occurred amidst Lebanon's continuing political crisis, following the resignation Thursday of Saad Hariri, the prime minister designate and the son of slain former Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri, in what some political observers viewed as part of the bargaining with potential coalition partners.

Hariri has been attempting to form a coalition since the June 7 elections. Among his potential partners is Hezbollah, a Lebanese group that fought a 34-day war with Israel in the summer of 2006. More than 1,200 Lebanese and 160 Israelis died in the fighting.

Since the war, there's been occasional rocket fire from Lebanon. The latest incident occurred on Feb. 22, when a Katyusha rocket landed next to a house in northern Israel, injuring three people.

Israel Radio quoted unnamed government sources as saying that in the past Israel refrained from attacking Lebanese infrastructure, but the policy might change if Hezbollah enters the government.

Israel Radio also reports that the United Nations force based in southern Lebanon, UNIFIL, called on Hezbollah and Israel to exercise restraint and has sent forces to the area where the rockets were fired from.

The Israeli online news service Ynet, quoted military sources as saying the rocket fire was an isolated incident and is the result of internal Lebanese tensions and not expected to result in further escalation.

(Churgin is a McClatchy special correspondent.)


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