Israel Strikes Palestinian Base on Lebanon-Syria Border, State News Claims

Israeli strike on position belonging to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command, Lebanon's An-Nahar newspaper reports

File photo: Smoke rises from a Hezbollah stronghold in southern Beirut after an Israeli air strike, July 19, 2006.
Reuters

Lebanon's state-run National News Agency says Israeli warplanes have attacked a Palestinian base in the country's east, near the border with Syria early Monday. 

The report says there were three strikes early on Monday, minutes apart, that struck a base for a Syrian-backed group known as the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine — General Command.

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The strikes came a day after two drones, which the Lebanese army and Hezbollah said were Israeli, crashed in the Hezbollah-dominated southern suburbs of Beirut, with one exploding. 

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Reuters quotes Lebanon's An-Nahar news, which said that "Three Israeli air strikes target the Lebanese-Syria border east of Zahle."

"This aggression is a continuation of what happened in Beirut and a provocative attempt that is a direct reaction to Nasarallah's statements," Khaled Jibril, the official in the Palestinian faction told al-Mayadeen TV. 

President Michel Aoun said on Monday that Lebanon had a right to defend itself, likening Israeli drone strikes to a "declaration of war" amid rising tensions between Hezbollah and Israel.

The faction has a military presence in Syria where it has fought alongside Hezbollah and the Syrian army in support of President Bashar al Assad. 

An official from the Palestinian position in the Lebanese town of Qusaya said three air strikes hit it, causing only material damage. An-Nahar said anti-aircraft fire was launched from the position.

"MK planes (drones) targeted one of our sites with three small rockets. There were no casualties, only material damage," Abu Muhammad told An-Nahar. 

An Israeli military spokeswoman told Reuters: "We do not comment on foreign reports." The Lebanese army was not immediately available for comment. 

Due to the volatile security situation, the Israeli army is increasing its number of Iron Dome missile defense system batteries and its threat level on the Lebanon and Syrian borders.   

On Sunday, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah made one of his rare public statements on Sunday afternoon and spoke out after a day of tensions between Israel, Syria and Lebanon. 

The Shi'ite group's leader said his speech and the presence of thousands who came to listen to him speak was the "first response to the Israeli aggression."

Nasrallah claimed that Israeli strikes against targets in Syria Saturday overnight – which Israel confirmed in a rare move – were "very, very dangerous" and had actually targeted Hezbollah and not Iran. 

Hezbollah's retaliations to attacks they attributed to Israel
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"[Israeli Prime Minister] Netanyahu is boasting of what happened in Syria and of the targeted bombing of Al Quds forces. In fact the Israeli bombing wasn't on the Iranian Al Quds, but on Hezbollah ... and it wasn’t a base, it was a home," he added, noting that two Hezbollah fighters were killed.

Nasrallah also addressed reports the drones crashed in Beirut overnight Saturday, attempting to strike the group's communications center. The drones were Israeli, the Hezbollah leader charged, and this had been "the first attack since August 14, 2006. This is a violation of the rules of engagement."

One surveillance drone was brought down by youth who were playing in the neighborhood and threw rocks on it. Shortly after, he said, "the second plane came, it was armed and it targeted buildings ... It was a suicide mission." 

Nasrallah vowed to down any Israeli drones over Lebanese skies.

He pledged to retaliate and promised a firm response: "Netanyahu, you and your army know that we're not joking. I tell the soldiers on Israel's borders, stand on the border wall with two feet and a half, and wait for us."

Nasrallah also addressed the upcoming Israeli election. "Netanyahu knows that his destiny is either in the prime minister's office or prison, he is doing this with the blood of Lebanese and Iraqis. But this time, Israelis, Netanyahu is electioneering with your own blood." 

On Saturday night, the Israeli army struck in Syria, saying it foiled an attempted Iranian Revolutionary Guards' Quds Force drone attack. According to the IDF, the foiled attack entailed sending several armed drones to strike targets in Israel's north. 

The IDF says it blew up a building that was used by Quds Force and Iran-aligned militia members and used to store drones and explosives, which were transferred from Iran via Damascus. IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Aviv Kochavi blamed Quds Force General Qassem Soleimani for the thwarted attack, saying that Soleimani was behind its funding and planning.