4 Katyushas fired into Galilee; no casualties reported
Jihadist Abdullah Azzam Brigade claims responsibility; Israel responds with shells.
The Abdullah Azzam Brigades, which is identified with global jihad, claimed responsibility for the four Katyusha rockets fired over the Lebanese border into the Western Galilee just after midnight between Monday and Tuesday.
The small terrorist group is known to take cover in Palestinian refugee camps in southern Lebanon. It lacks major weapons stocks and most of what it has is old.
The commander of UNIFIL, the United Nations peacekeeping force in southern Lebanon, Maj. Gen. Alberto Asarta Cuevas, said his troops would seek out those responsible for the attack and step up patrols along the border with Israel.
The Lebanese army reportedly determined the rockets were fired from the vicinity of the village of Ramish. The rockets caused no injuries in Israel, although two chicken coops were damaged and rocket fragments ignited a natural gas storage facility.
Warning sirens did not sound. Army sources said the warning system cannot be left operational all the time and is activated when circumstances, including intelligence information, warrant it. Israeli forces returned fire into the area from which the rockets came.
The Home Front Command raised its level of alert in the north, but normal routine continued.
It is possible the Katyusha fire related to the date - on November 29, 1947 the United Nations General Assembly passed the Partition Plan for Palestine. But it also may have reflected Syrian pressure on Palestinian groups for border provocation to deflect attention from what is going on in Syria. If Syrian President Bashar Assad thinks he is losing his grip on power, such provocation could grow.
Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati, whose appointment was seen as coming at Hezbollah's behest, said on Tuesday that the Lebanese army is studying the incident and hoped it was a one-time event. He refused to elaborate on his threat to resign Wednesday if Hezbollah blocks Lebanese funding for the international tribunal investigating the 2005 killing of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.
The international tribunal, based near The Hague, wants at least four senior Hezbollah officials tried in absentia for involvement in Hariri's assassination. Hezbollah brought down the government of Hariri's son, Prime Minister Saad Hariri, earlier this year over his desire to fund the tribunal.
Lebanon's current prime minister is considered Hezbollah's most important internal ally, but he opposes the Shi'ite organization on this issue. His cabinet is scheduled to debate the issue on Wednesday. Hezbollah and its allies have sufficient cabinet strength to veto any proposal to provide the funds, but face Mikati's threat to resign if they veto.
The Mikati threat suggests Hezbollah's public standing is on the decline, but Hezbollah has not hesitated in the past to attack the opposition or Israel to get out of a political bind.
UNIFIL commander Asarta Cuevas said on Tuesday that the rocket fire was a violation of UN Security Council Resolution 1701, which ended the Second Lebanon War in 2006. It is much easier for Asarta Cuevas to deal with a single act of Global Jihad than Hezbollah's ongoing efforts in southern Lebanon to fortify its presence there.
It is also convenient for Israel to overlook Hezbollah's blatant violations of Resolution 1701. An invisible hand is constantly attempting to expose Hezbollah's weapons caches and rockets, as happened last week in the explosion in the village of Siddiqin. That kind of pinpointed incident exposes Hezbollah's military efforts, but doesn't stop them.
Israeli security officials said on Tuesday that Hezbollah had not been involved in this week's rocket fire, reflecting a wish to maintain calm on the northern border. Similar to the situation with Hamas along the border with Gaza, the policy is not to react to individual fire, certainly when Hezbollah in the north or Hamas in the south, is not involved and the only victims are a few chickens.