Qaida-linked Group in Lebanon Claims Rocket Attack on Israel

Group: Attack in retaliation for Jerusalem violence; Lebanon: Israel arranged Katyusha fire.

A Lebanon-based al-Qaida-linked group claimed responsibility Thursday for a rocket attack against Israel this week, saying it was in retaliation for Israel's crackdown on protesters at a Jerusalem shrine.

The claim from a group calling itself the Battalions of Ziad Jarrah came two days after a rocket was fired from Lebanon into northern Israel, causing no casualties. Lebanese troops subsequently found and dismantled four additional rockets in the village of Houla near the border with Israel.

The claim of responsibility, made on a Web site often used by Islamic militants, could not be independently verified.

The group is named after a Lebanese militant who as among the 19 suicide attackers that carried out the Sept. 11 attacks in the United States. It has claimed responsibility for previous rocket-firings across the border into Israel.

The group said its fighters set up five rockets in Houla on Tuesday night but one launched prematurely, leading the militants to flee the area leaving four rockets behind. It was the fifth such attack against Israel from Lebanon this year. Israel responded with artillery fire, but there were no reports of casualties.

Earlier this month, Israel troops cracked down to disperse hundreds of stone-throwing Palestinian protesters in a fresh eruption of violence at the most volatile spot in the Holy Land. The site is known to Jews as the Temple Mount and to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary.

Lebanon: Israel arranged rocket fire to keep tensions high

Lebanese President Michel Suleiman on Thursday suggested that Israel had arranged for collaborators in his country to fire Katyusha rockets at the Galilee earlier this week, in a bid to keep tensions high in the area.

According to the Lebanese newspaper A-Sapir, Israel's declarations that it would not cease its intelligence activities on Lebanese territories validate Suleiman's accusations.

A panel of inquiry established by the Lebanese Army found that the rockets, fired from Houla in southern Lebanon on Tuesday, were launched from the home of the village's mayor.

The mayor was not present in his home, according to the panel, and has no connection to the rocket fire.

Lebanese troops found and dismantled four rockets ready for launching in a building under construction near the border with Israel on Wednesday, said a senior Lebanese army official.

Three of the four Katyusha rockets found were ready to be fired, said the official.

The discovery came one day after the Katyusha fired, the first such incident since last month.

The attack on Tuesday drew a rapid response from Israeli artillery in a brief flare-up across the border that caused no casualties.