Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Israel pounds Gaza and Lebanon amid rising tensions over al-Aqsa

The Israeli army launched airstrikes on southern Lebanon and the Gaza Strip on Thursday night and Friday morning. The escalation came as the Israeli forces stormed the Al-Aqsa Mosque in occupied East Jerusalem and an exchange of fire between Palestinians and Israelis.

The Israeli military has announced striking certain targets inside Lebanon, from which dozens of rockets were fired earlier at the occupied territories in retaliation for the Zionist regime’s crackdown on Palestinian worshipers at the al-Aqsa Mosque’s compound.

The Israeli military made the announcement on Friday, sufficing to say in a short statement that it “is currently striking in Lebanon,” without providing further details.

Some reports specified the target of the attacks as the Rashidieh Palestinian refugee camp in Lebanon, which is located south of the city of Tyre.

A Lebanese TV station reported explosions in the southern port city.

The Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) has announced it would not allow Hamas to attack from Lebanon.

“The IDF will not allow the Hamas terrorist organisation to operate from within Lebanon,” the IDF said in a statement.

It added that it holds the state of Lebanon responsible any attacks emanating from its territory.

An Israeli military spokesman has said the Israeli operation was over for the moment.

“Nobody wants an escalation right now,” he told reporters, adding, “Quiet will be answered with quiet, at this stage I think, at least in the coming hours.”

Meantime, Lebanon’s caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati condemned the firing of rockets from Lebanon.

The prime minister said the army and United Nations peacekeepers were investigating who was behind the launches and trying to find the perpetrators.

The government “categorically rejects any military escalation”, Mikati added, as well as the use of Lebanon to stage acts that threaten stability.

The United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) cited Israeli officials as saying “they do not want war” with Lebanon.

Lebanon’s resistance movement of Hezbollah fought off two Israeli wars against Lebanon in 2000 and 2006, forcing a humiliating retreat upon the Tel Aviv regime’s military in both cases.

The movement has vowed to resolutely defend Lebanon in case of any other Israeli-imposed warfare.

The Israeli warplanes has also attack targets inside the Gaza Strip following the firing of retaliatory rockets from the direction of the coastal strip, according to reports.

The aircraft targeted the Hay al-Zeitoun area in the south of Gaza City with three missiles, besides attacking various other areas across the Tel Aviv-occupied enclave on Thursday.

Israeli media outlets reported the fighter jets were engaged in attacking the resistance movements’ positions in Gaza.

An explosion rang out in the city of Rafah, which is likewise located in the southern Gaza Strip.

Palestinian sources identified the other sites that have been targeted by the raids as a site belonging to the resistance south of Gaza City, an observatory post east of city, an agricultural land in the town of Beit Hanoun in northeastern Gaza, and a location east of Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip.

Sources inside Gaza told al-Mayadeen television network that all the sites that have been targeted in the Israeli aerial aggression have been evacuated.

It took the resistance outfits a mere several seconds to respond to the airstrikes with rocket barrages.

The resistance’s retaliation set off sirens in the city of Sderot as well as the illegal settlements of Nirim and Nir Am near Gaza’s border in the occupied territories.

Palestinian sources stated that the Iron Dome failed to intercept most of the retaliatory rockets, and has caused a state of fear among illegal Israeli settlers.

The announcement of the strikes came hours after around three dozen rockets were fired towards the occupied territories in retaliation for the Israeli regime’s attacks on Palestinian worshipers at the al-Aqsa Mosque compound in the occupied city of al-Quds.

On Tuesday and Wednesday, Israeli forces raided the holy site and tried to evacuate Palestinian worshipers by firing tear gas, stun grenades and rubber bullets.

Hamas has vowed that Palestinians will not remain indifferent and inactive in the face of the Israeli regime’s ongoing acts of aggression targeting the al-Aqsa Mosque’s compound in the holy occupied city of al-Quds.

“Our Palestinian people and the Palestinian resistance groups will not sit idly by” in the face of the occupying regime’s “savage aggression” against al-Aqsa, said Ismail Haniyeh, who runs the Gaza Strip-based Palestinian resistance movement’s Politburo.

In his statement, Haniyeh called on “all Palestinian organizations to unify their ranks and intensify their resistance against the Zionist occupation.”

The secretary general of Lebanon’s Hezbollah resistance movement has also met with a delegation of senior Hamas officials in Beirut.

Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah met with notable decision-makers from the Gaza-based resistance movement, including Haniyeh, Sheikh Saleh al-Arouri, deputy head of the Hamas’ political bureau, and top officials Khalil al-Hayya and Osama Hamdan, according to Palestinian media outlets.

During their meeting, Nasrallah and the Hamas officials reviewed the latest political and field developments in Palestine, Lebanon and the Middle East, especially the recent confrontations in the Gaza Strip, the West Bank and al-Quds.

The meeting also focused on the possible outcome of the situation in the region, in light of recent developments.

Nasrallah has issued a warning to Israel over the regime’s escalation at the al-Aqsa Mosque compound in the occupied Old City of al-Quds.

“The resistance front has a high number of long-range missiles in its arsenal; but it is not using them at the moment,” he said, adding, “One of the options that resistance fighters would take in case Zionists commit a folly would be the launch of a significant number of ballistic missiles at sensitive Israeli centers.”

Al-Quds Brigades, the military wing of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad resistance movement, has also condemned the latest Israeli forces’ raid against worshipers at the al-Aqsa Mosque during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, and said that the attack was a “red line” for all Palestinians.

Abu Hamza, a spokesman for the group, stated that the resistance front has in reality honored its pledge to defend al-Quds, will continue to confront the Zionist regime’s atrocities, and stresses that it will not hesitance to carry out retaliatory operations by any means.

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