IDF shells South Lebanon after rocket fire on Western Galilee

Illustrative photo of Israeli artillery on the Lebanese border, January 28, 2015 (IDF Spokesperson)

Illustrative photo of Israeli artillery on the Lebanese border, January 28, 2015 (IDF Spokesperson)

Israel says it holds Lebanese Army responsible for any cross-border activity aimed at harming its citizens

(SOURCE)   Israel Defense Forces artillery units shelled targets in South Lebanon Sunday evening, shortly after at least three rockets were fired from across the border into Israeli territory.

“The Israel Defense Forces have responded with targeted artillery fire following the rockets that hit Israel earlier today from southern Lebanon,” a statement from the army said.

“The IDF considers the Lebanese Army as solely responsible for what is happening in the territory and will continue to act against any attempt to harm the sovereignty of the State of Israel and the security of its citizens,” the statement continued.

Earlier, Lebanese news website MTV reported heavy Israeli air activity over southern Lebanon, along with flares being fired at the al-Mansour area, close to the capital city of Beirut.

The IDF did not confirm any air activity on its part.

The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command, a Syria-based Palestinian terror group, took responsibility for the rocket fire, according to Lebanese media cited by Israel’s Channel 2.

The rockets struck open areas near the northern city of Nahariya in the Western Galilee, in less than a day after an alleged IDF airstrike killed Samir Kuntar, the Hezbollah terrorist who spent decades in an Israeli jail for his role in the brutal 1979 murders of a Nahariya family.

Air-raid sirens warning of incoming projectiles sounded in towns and cities throughout the Western Galilee ahead of the rockets’ fall. Local residents later reported hearing several explosions.

There were no immediate reports of injuries or damage from the rocket strikes.

Security forces searched the area adjacent to Nahariya and along the border with Lebanon for the rocket landing sites. The IDF launched an investigation into the incident, in order to determine who had fired the rockets.

Lebanon’s Naharnet news site reported that two rockets were fired at Israel from the al-Hinniyeh area, near the city of Tyre, and two more were fired from Tal al-Maaliyeh. Some reports by Lebanese media suggested that a fourth rocket may have landed in the sea.

A Lebanese source told AFP that the rockets were Katyushas.

UNIFIL Head of Mission and Force Commander Major-General Luciano Portolano called in a statement for maximum restraint, in order to prevent any escalation of the situation.

“This is a serious incident in violation of UN Security Council resolution 1701 and is clearly directed at undermining stability in the area,” Portolano said. “It is imperative to identify and apprehend the perpetrators of this attack.”

The UNIFIL leader said additional troops were deployed in south Lebanon to help prevent any further incidents.

Northern Israel had been bracing for a possible Hezbollah response since the killing of Kuntar, 54, overnight Saturday.

(FILES) - A file picture taken on July 16, 2008, shows Lebanese Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah (R) speaking next to freed Lebanese prisoner Samir Kuntar (L) at a stadium in Beirut's southern suburbs. (AFP PHOTO/MUSSA AL-HUSSEINI / AFP / MUSSA AL-HUSSEINI)

(FILES) – A file picture taken on July 16, 2008, shows Lebanese Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah (R) speaking next to freed Lebanese prisoner Samir Kuntar (L) at a stadium in Beirut’s southern suburbs. (AFP PHOTO/MUSSA AL-HUSSEINI / AFP / MUSSA AL-HUSSEINI)

Arab media reported that several Israeli Air Force missiles struck the Damascus suburb of Jaramana, killing Kuntar and eight other operatives.

Hezbollah on Sunday morning said that Kuntar was killed in an Israeli airstrike, and alleged that Israel may have coordinated the hit with Syrian rebel “terrorists” operating in the area. The Assad regime also blamed “terrorist groups” for the strike.

Reports said that Kuntar was assassinated not as revenge for his past actions, but rather because he was planning fresh attacks against Israel.

There was no official Israeli confirmation of the attack, although officials expressed satisfaction over his death. Kuntar was with a group of commanders from various terrorist groups that were planning attacks on Israel, reports said.

A Lebanese Druze, Kuntar became infamous for a brutal 1979 raid from Lebanon in which he helped kidnap an Israeli family from Nahariya, then smashed the head of a four-year-old Israeli girl, Einat Haran, with his rifle butt, killing her. Three other Israelis, including her father, Danny Haran, were killed in the attack.

82-year-old Nina Keren, mother of Danny Haran and grandmother of Einat who were killed by Samir Kuntar when he broke into their Nahariya home in 1982 and shot them, holds a picture of her son and her granddaughter on July 15, 2008. ( Kobi Gideon / FLASH90)

82-year-old Nina Keren, mother of Danny Haran and grandmother of Einat who were killed by Samir Kuntar when he broke into their Nahariya home in 1982 and shot them, holds a picture of her son and her granddaughter on July 15, 2008. ( Kobi Gideon / FLASH90)

Kuntar was 16 at the time, a member of the Palestine Liberation Front.

He spent 29 years in an Israeli prison before being traded to Hezbollah in 2008 in exchange for the bodies of IDF soldiers Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser. After that, he took on a senior role in the group, was honored by then-Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and by Syrian President Bashar Assad, and helped to organize Syrian Druze on the Golan Heights and elsewhere into terror cells charged with carrying out attacks against Israel.

AFP and Times of Israel Staff contributed to this report.

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