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Israel retaliates with missile strike from Lebanon following Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades’ raid

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Heavy barrages of rockets were fired at Israel from Lebanon Thursday, the army claimed, in a move that followed violent raids by Israeli police targeting Palestinians worshiping at the Al-Aqsa mosque during the holy month of Ramadan.

The Israeli military said 34 rockets were fired across the border, forcing people across Israel’s northern border into bomb shelters, injuring at least two people.

The military said 25 missiles were shot down by its Iron Dome air defense system. The security forces added that five more rockets landed on Israeli territory, and the rest of the strikes are being investigated.

The unusually large rockets raised fears of a wider conflagration, as Hezbollah, Israel’s arch-enemy, controls much of southern Lebanon.

Over the past two days, tensions have escalated dramatically after Israeli forces stormed the Temple Mount, which houses the Al-Aqsa Mosque, and targeted Palestinians praying inside and along Israel’s tense border with the Gaza Strip.

The army said its response would come after an “assessment of the situation” and a meeting of Israel’s security cabinet later on Thursday.

Lebanon rejects “escalation” from its territory

On Thursday, Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati said that his country “rejects any escalation from its territory,” denouncing the barrage of missiles that were fired towards Israel from its territory.

Mikati said in a statement that Lebanon “refuses to use its territory to carry out operations that destabilize the situation” after Israel threatened to take revenge on the Palestinian factions it accused of attacking.

No group in Lebanon has claimed responsibility for the barrage of rockets that set off alarm bells in the north of the country.

Earlier Thursday and Wednesday evening, Palestinian factions in the besieged Gaza Strip were said to have fired several rockets towards Israel in protest of the Israeli police storming the Al-Aqsa Mosque with tear gas and stun grenades.

On Thursday, Hezbollah condemned Israel’s storming of Al-Aqsa Mosque, describing it as a “flagrant violation”.

For Muslims, Al-Aqsa represents the third holiest site in Islam. Jews call the area the Temple Mount, saying it was the site of two synagogues in ancient times.

East Jerusalem, where Al-Aqsa is located, was occupied by Israel during the 1967 Arab-Israeli War. It annexed the entire city in 1980 in a move not recognized by the international community.

A Lebanese security official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media, said Lebanese security forces believe the rockets were fired by a Lebanon-based Palestinian group, not by Hezbollah fighters.

Both Israel and Hezbollah have avoided all-out conflict since their 34-day war ended in 2006 in a draw.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed an “aggressive response” after the rocket attacks.

“We will strike our enemies, and they will pay the price for every act of aggression,” Netanyahu said in a statement Thursday night.

He said that Israelis remain united in facing external enemies despite their internal political divisions. Netanyahu was forced to halt the judicial reform law after it faced mass protests that some officials said would bring the country to the brink of civil war.

On Wednesday evening, the occupation police raided Al-Aqsa Mosque, firing stun grenades and rubber bullets to forcibly remove the worshipers. Palestinians threw stones at the officers. After a few hours of scuffles that left a trail of damage, the police removed everyone from the compound.

On Tuesday evening, the same tensions ended with police beating Palestinians harshly and arresting more than 400 people. The entrance to the area is controlled by Israeli authorities, but Islamic and Jordanian officials run the complex.

The violence at the site resonated across the region, with condemnations pouring in from Muslim leaders.

The events, during the holy month of Ramadan and the Jewish Passover holiday, come amid fears of an outbreak of escalating tensions during a year of escalating violence at Al-Aqsa Mosque, as the 2021 clashes sparked a 10-day war. in Gaza.

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