x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Rocket fired from Lebanon at Israel falls short

The attack follows rising concerns that conflict in Syria may spill into Lebanon, where the public is deeply divided between supporters and opponents of the Syrian regime.

BEIRUT // A rocket fired from Lebanon towards Israel fell short, wounding a Lebanese woman, officials said yesterday.

The launch comes nearly two weeks after rockets fired from Lebanese territory hit the Jewish state in the first such attack in two years, and comes two days after a roadside bomb struck French peacekeepers in southern Lebanon.

The attack follows rising concerns that conflict in Syria may spill into Lebanon, where the public is deeply divided between supporters and opponents of the Syrian regime.

Lebanese see regional powers including Syria as having sponsored violence in their country in the past. This latest rocket was fired late Sunday from the village of Majdal Silim and hit a home in Houla, another village close to the border, the army said in a statement.

The statement said the woman was seriously wounded. The army said troops cordoned off the area where the rocket landed and intensified patrols in the place where the rocket was launched. It added that a military committee began an investigation.

UN peacekeepers based in southern Lebanon confirmed the rocket launch and the injury, and said they would work with the Lebanese army to try to contain the "escalation of incidents."

The southern border has been tense, but largely quiet, since Lebanon's Hizbollah group and Israel fought a 34-day war in 2006. During the fighting, Israel bombed Hizbollah's strongholds in Lebanon, and the militant group barraged northern Israel with nearly 4,000 rockets.

About 1,200 Lebanese and 160 Israelis were killed in the conflict, which ended with a UN-brokered truce that sent thousands of Lebanese troops and international peacekeepers into southern Lebanon to prevent another outbreak.

There have been several rocket launches since the 2006 war, but Hizbollah has not claimed responsibility for any of them. Smaller Palestinian factions, some linked to Al Qaeda, have claimed to have launched rockets on several occasions.

The latest rocket launch that reached Israel, the first in two years, happened in November. There were no casualties.

Sunday's launch came two days after a roadside bomb hit a UN vehicle in southern Lebanon, wounding five French peacekeepers and a Lebanese bystander.

The Spanish head of UNIFIL expressed "serious concern" at the rocket launch and the two other "security breaches" in the south over the last two weeks.

Maj Gen Alberto Asarta Cuevas said the force would take concrete measures, together with the Lebanese army, to reinforce security in the area.