Air strikes launched as Mideast tensions soar

GAZA (Caasimada Online) – Israel launched pre-dawn air strikes on Friday targeting the Palestinian militant group Hamas in the Gaza Strip and Lebanon.

The attacks came in response to dozens of rockets fired at Israel from both territories.

Tensions have surged between Israel and Palestinians during the Jewish Passover and the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, leading to international calls for restraint.

The strikes, which occurred around 4 am (0100 GMT), hit both the Gaza Strip and southern Lebanon, according to an Israeli army statement.

This marked the first time Israel confirmed an attack on Lebanese territory since April 2022.

Israeli forces targeted “terror infrastructures belonging to the Hamas terrorist organization in southern Lebanon.”

AFP journalists heard explosions in both Lebanon’s Tyre region and the Gaza Strip. At least three explosions were heard near Tyre shortly after Friday’s strikes.

Abu Ahmad, a nearby Palestinian refugee camp resident, reported hearing explosions and said, “At least two shells fell near the camp.”

Clashes at Al-Aqsa Mosque

The recent surge in violence follows clashes between Israeli police and Palestinians inside Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa mosque on Wednesday.

The mosque is considered Islam’s third-holiest site. On Thursday, the Israeli army reported that more than 30 rockets were fired from Lebanese territory into Israel, the most significant escalation on the northern border since Israel and Hezbollah fought a 34-day war in 2006.

Following the rocket attacks, explosions were heard in the Gaza Strip.

The Israeli army confirmed it had targeted two tunnels and “two weapon manufacturing sites” belonging to Hamas “as a response to the security violations of Hamas during the last few days.”

Calls for restraint

Hours before the air strikes in southern Lebanon, several missiles were fired from Gaza toward Israel.

The Israeli army said its air defenses intercepted 25 rockets, while five hit Israeli territory.

In response, the army stated it “will not allow the Hamas terrorist organization to operate from within Lebanon and holds the state of Lebanon responsible for every directed fire emanating from its territory.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned, “Israel’s response, tonight and in the future, will exact a heavy price.”

Meanwhile, Hamas condemned the “appalling Israeli aggression” and held Israel “fully responsible for the consequences of such grave aggression.”

The Palestinian health ministry reported “partial damage” to the Al-Dorra children’s hospital in Gaza City due to the overnight strikes, labeling the act “unacceptable.”

Army spokesman Lt. Colonel Richard Hecht said the Israeli army was aware of the Palestinian allegation and was investigating it.

The United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), which patrols the area along the Israeli border, called for restraint.

“Both sides (Lebanon and Israel) have said they do not want a war,” UNIFIL said in a statement, adding that force leader Major General Aroldo Lazaro was communicating with authorities from the two sides.

UNIFIL warned that “the actions over the past day are dangerous and risk a serious escalation.”

Hezbollah warns for IsraelĀ 

Lebanese militant Hezbollah warned it would back “all measures” that Palestinian groups might take against Israel after the Al-Aqsa mosque clashes.

The group has close ties with Hamas and Islamic Jihad, another Palestinian militant group based in the Gaza Strip.

The rocket attacks occurred a day after Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh arrived in Lebanon for a visit.

Haniyeh stated late Thursday that Palestinians would not “sit with their arms crossed” in the face of Israeli “aggression” against Al-Aqsa.

Source: News Agencies