Israel shells Lebanon in retaliation for rocket attack

Israel shelled southern Lebanon Feb. 21 after a rocket hit its territory, injuring three people near the town of Maalot in the western Galilee region. “The Israeli army considers this a serious incident and believes it is the responsibility of the Lebanese government and the army to prevent this rocket fire,” an Israeli army spokesman said. Lebanese Prime Minister Fuad Siniora denounced the violence, which caused panic on both sides of the border, while Hezbollah denied any involvement. “The Israeli shelling is an unacceptable and unjustified violation of Lebanese sovereignty,” Siniora said in a statement. But he added: “The rockets launched from Lebanon threaten the country’s security and stability and constitute a violation of UN Security Council Resolution 1701.”

UN peacekeeping force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) urged maximum restraint, and said its commander, Major General Claudio Graziano had been in touch with the militaries of both Israel and Lebanon in an effort to de-escalate the situation. There were no immediate reports of casualties on the Lebanon side. (AFP, Feb. 21)

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