After five rockets were launched at Israel
Sunday morning, UNIFIL claims it is in direct contact with the IDF
and Lebanese army in a bid to prevent further escalation, find perpetrators
UNIFIL's announcement came amid tense responses from Israel, which blamed Lebanon for the attack and vowed to respond if needed.
UNIFIL Force Commander Major-General Paolo Serra was in immediate contact with his counterparts in Lebanese Armed Forces and the IDF commands. He urged the parties to exercise the maximum amount of restraint in order to prevent any escalation of the situation.
Major-General Paolo Serra said: “This is a very serious incident in violation of UN Security Council resolution 1701 and is clearly directed at undermining stability in the area. UNIFIL’s first imperative is to ensure that there is no further escalation of the situation and I have been assured by the parties of their full cooperation.
Serra added that: “Our troops on the ground are working with the Lebanese Armed Forces to reinforce security and locate the rocket launching site. UNIFIL has intensified its patrols across our area of operations to prevent any further incidents.”
According to Serra, “It is of paramount importance to identify and apprehend the perpetrators of this attack."
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
of being involved in firing rockets at Israel and warned Beirut of even tougher reprisals after the IDF shelled Lebanon in an initial response to the rockets.
“(Hezbollah) is organizing attacks at civilians, just as it did today, and it is hiding behind civilians as human shields,” the Israeli prime minister's press office quoted him as saying.
“What is happening today in Lebanon is that Hezbollah is stationing thousands missiles and rockets in apartments, in the heart of the civilian population, and is thus perpetrating two war crimes simultaneously.”
The prime minister's remarks came after his country's army fired about 20 shells into southern Lebanon without causing any damage, after rockets were launched in the opposite direction.
"We know that Iran,
which continues to help the Syrian
government to commit massacres against its people and arm terrorist organizations abroad, is behind Hezbollah," Netanyahu also said.
Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon
warned the Lebanese government of an even tougher response to further rocket attacks.
"We will not tolerate fire from Lebanon on our territory... We consider the Lebanese government and army responsible for this morning's fire," said Yaalon.
"The Israeli army responded by firing a large number of shells at the area from where the rockets were fired. If necessary, it will be even tougher.
"I would never advise anyone to test our patience and our determination to defend the security of the Israeli people," the minister said in a statement.
His remarks came after the IDF said five rockets were fired at Israel, with at least one of them exploding on its territory without causing any casualties or damage. In retaliation, the Israeli military fired about 20 shells at Lebanon, also without causing any casualties or damage, according to a Lebanese security official.
Tension has spiked on the border between the two countries since Lebanese troops shot dead an IDF navy officer driving near the border on December 16.
It was the most serious incident along the border since 2010, when one Israeli soldier and two Lebanese soldiers, and a journalist were killed.
Israel's border with Lebanon has been largely quiet since the 2006 Second Lebanon War
AFP contributed to this report