Israel Strikes Lebanon, Gaza

Rare strikes on Lebanon follow clashes at Jerusalem mosque
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Apr 7, 2023 4:03 AM CDT
Israel Strikes Lebanon, Gaza
A man inspects damage to a shopping center from an intercepted rocket fired from Lebanon in Shlomi, northern Israel Thursday, April 6, 2023.   (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)

Israel launched rare strikes in southern Lebanon early Friday and pressed on with bombing targets in the Gaza Strip, marking a widening escalation in the region following violence this week at Jerusalem’s most sensitive holy site, Al-Aqsa Mosque compound. The cross-border fighting erupted during a time of heightened religious fervor—when Jews are celebrating the Passover holiday and Muslims are marking the Ramadan holy month, the AP reports. In 2021, an escalation also triggered by clashes at the mosque spilled over into an 11-day war between Israel and Gaza’s Hamas rulers.

Friday's strikes in southern Lebanon came a day after militants fired nearly three dozen rockets from there at Israel, wounding two people and causing some property damage. The Israeli military said it targeted installations of Hamas, the Palestinian militant group, in southern Lebanon. AP correspondents in the area said several missiles fired by Israeli warplanes struck an open field in the town of Qalili near the Palestinian refugee camp of Rashidiyeh, close to the coastal southern city of Tyre, while others struck a bridge and power transformer in the nearby town of Maaliya and a farm on the outskirts of Rashidiyeh, killing several sheep. No human deaths were reported.

Israeli strikes in Lebanon risk drawing Lebanon's Hezbollah militia into the fighting, which could lead to war. The Iran-backed group, armed with thousands of rockets and missiles, holds sway over much of southern Lebanon and is viewed by Israel as a bitter foe. The Israeli military was careful to note in its announcement about Friday’s attack that it was targeting only sites linked to Palestinian militants. In recent years, Hezbollah has stayed out of other flareups related to the Al-Aqsa Mosque, which stands on a hilltop revered by Muslims and Jews. The current round of violence began Wednesday after Israeli police twice raided the mosque. That led Thursday to rocket fire from Gaza and, in a significant escalation, the rocket barrage from Lebanon.

(More Israel stories.)

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