The Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) launched a series of airstrikes on Lebanese territory, calling them retaliation for cross-border rocket attacks after earlier firing scores of artillery rounds in response.
The IDF confirmed the strikes early on Thursday morning, saying the overnight sorties targeted “infrastructure used for terrorism” and rocket sites, vowing to “continue and even intensify” its operations in Lebanon.
Video footage has circulated online purporting to show the IDF strikes in progress.
Earlier, the military said three rockets fired from Lebanon landed near Kiryat Shmona, a border town far in Israel’s north. While one munition exploded before reaching the Israeli side of the border, another ignited a fire near residential buildings in the town, according to Haaretz. No casualties were reported.
Thursday’s airstrikes mark the IDF’s fourth round of operations in southern Lebanon over the last 24 hours, according to the Jerusalem Post, which reported that “over 100” artillery shells were fired into the country in response. The military released footage of the earlier shelling.
תיעוד מהתקיפות הארטילריות של צה”ל ברחבי גבול לבנון בשעות האחרונות, בתגובה לירי לעבר שטח ישראל: pic.twitter.com/srBIJRvnLH
— צבא ההגנה לישראל (@idfonline) August 4, 2021
Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said he and his Defense Minister Benny Gantz had been briefed on the situation and would oversee the operations.
The United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) has urged both sides to cease fire and to “exercise maximum restraint to avoid further escalation,” adding that it is now working with the Lebanese military to “reinforce security” along the border, also known as the “Blue Line.”
The IDF has launched a number of strikes into Lebanon since the spring, firing shells across the border back in May, as well as recently as late July, both in response to rockets.
READ MORE: IDF’s artillery targets Lebanon after rockets hit northern Israel
In addition to intermittent air and artillery attacks, Tel Aviv has fought two major wars in Lebanon since 1982, when it occupied the country for several years following a bloody bombing campaign targeting Palestinian fighters based in Beirut. It views Hezbollah – a Shia militia group and political party with close ties to Iran – as a persistent threat and has repeatedly called on the Lebanese government to rein in the faction.
The cross-border exchange also comes amid domestic turmoil within Lebanon, with Wednesday marking the one-year anniversary of a massive blast in Beirut that killed more than 200 people, injured thousands and inflicted billions in damage. The explosion erupted from a cache of improperly stored ammonium nitrate, and has triggered widespread outrage among locals, who took the streets this week to demand accountability for the tragedy. To date, no one has faced significant punishment.
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