Israel Bombarded by Largest Barrage of Rockets in 15 Years as Passover Begins


Lebanon fired dozens of rockets at Israel on Thursday afternoon in Israel, and at least five of them crashed into Israeli territory, the nation’s military said in a statement.

Air raid sirens went off across the country on Thursday as Israel began Passover celebrations, the largest escalation of tensions between Israel and the militant groups vying over control of Lebanon since 2006, according to Axios.

It was not immediately clear whether the ruling Hezbollah political party and Islamist militant group or other Palestinian faction launched the rockets, and the Israel Defense Forces have not indicated whether retaliatory measures will take place.

Israel’s air defense intercepted 25 of the rockets, while five landed on Israeli territory that included the northern town of Shlomi and the rest probably fell inside of Lebanon, the IDF said, according to Axios.

At least three people sustained injuries, The Times of Israel reported.

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“First day of Passover. As we sit at the holiday table, family and friends, Israel is facing rockets from south and north,” Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen tweeted. “No one should test us, we will take all necessary measures to defend our country and people.”

Hezbollah’s military component issued a statement Thursday morning declaring solidarity with the Palestinians, one day after Palestinians and Israeli police forces clashed at the Al-Aqsa mosque on the temple mount, according to Axios.

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Hezbollah promised to support “the resistance factions” in further actions to defend the mosque.

“Hezbollah proclaims its full solidarity with the Palestinian people and the resistance groups, and pledges that it will stand with them in all measures they take to protect worshipers and the Al-Aqsa Mosque and to deter the enemy from continuing its attacks,” the group said, according to The Times.

Violence at Islam’s third holiest site that left multiple Palestinians injured sparked tit-for-tat air strikes between Israel and Gaza, The Times reported.

Lebanese media said pro-Palestinian factions in the country launched the rockets, citing sources close to Hezbollah that claimed the political party and militant group, which dominates Lebanon’s government, was not behind the attack, according to Axios.

Israel’s security council will convene later Thursday once Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu received a briefing from defense officials, the Times of Israel reported.

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Media reports indicated that the airspace above northern Israel had been closed.

The U.N. Interim Force In Lebanon has expressed extreme concern over the escalation and ordered personnel to remain inside bomb shelters.

Head of mission Gen. Aroldo Lázaro said he was communicating with Israeli and Lebanese authorities, according to Axios.

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