Israel’s military said it fired artillery rounds into southern Lebanon on Sunday in response to rockets fired earlier across the border that struck inside Israel.
The firing comes one day after the killing of the veteran fighter of the Hezbollah resistance movement in Syria. The Israeli militants claimed that the artillery comes as a result of the three Katyusha rockets from Lebanon earlier on Sunday.
The Lebanese group and the Syrian state media said on Sunday that the airstrike killed Samir Qantar, a Hezbollah militant leader, in Damascus on Saturday evening.
The Israeli army said in a statement that it has “responded” to the Lebanese rocket with “targeted artillery fire.”
Lebanon’s national news agency NNA reported that Israel fired nine rounds of artillery at the south.
Jailed in Israel for his part in a 1979 raid in Israel that killed four people, Qantar, a Druze, was repatriated to Lebanon in 2008 in a prisoner swap with Hezbollah, which he is then believed to have joined.
Yaakov Amidror, Israel’s former national security adviser, predicted Hezbollah would seek to exact “small revenge” for Qantar’s killing, but said Hezbollah, like Iran, was likely too busy fighting in Syria to afford a new front with Israel.
“It would not be in their interest, and if they did so, they would have a big problem,” Amidror said, alluding to Israel’s threats to respond to any major Hezbollah attack with strikes in Lebanon.
Hezbollah’s official media said Qantar would be buried on Monday in a Shi’ite cemetery in its main stronghold of Dahiya in the southern suburbs of Beirut. The party opened a condolences hall to receive the public.
Israel launched wars on Lebanon in 2000 and 2006. About 1,200 Lebanese, most of them civilians were killed in the 33-Day War of 2006. On both occasions, however, Hezbollah fighters defeated the Israeli military and Tel Aviv was forced to retreat without achieving any of its objectives.
In September, the Lebanese army said it had discovered a rock-shape Israeli espionage device in a district of the southern town of Bani Hayan. The device was connected to four large electric batteries and was equipped with a hidden camera and some transmission devices.
Israel also violates Lebanon’s airspace on an almost daily basis through sending reconnaissance drones, claiming the flights serve surveillance purposes.
Lebanon’s government, the Hezbollah resistance movement, and the UN Interim Force in Lebanon, UNIFIL, have repeatedly condemned the overflights, saying they are in clear violation of UN Resolution 1701 and the country’s sovereignty.
UN Security Council Resolution 1701, which brokered a ceasefire in the 2006 war, calls on Israel to respect Lebanon’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.
Written by Yoana Manoilova for South Front