Rockets From Lebanon Fired at Northern Israel, No Casualties

YERUSHALAYIM (Reuters) -

Several rockets were fired at Israel from southern Lebanon on Thursday, but one was intercepted by an anti-missile shield and two or three others fell outside Israeli territory, the military said.

Israel blamed the attack – launched from an area that serves as a stronghold for Lebanon’s Hezbollah terrorist group — on a “global jihadi organization”, its term for al Qaida and other Islamist terrorist offshoots.

There were no reports of casualties, but Israeli media showed at least one car damaged by remnants of the rocket that was shot down.

“The IDF (military) is regarding this as a one-time incident. There is no change in regulations or orders,” IDF chief spokesman Yoav Mordechai told Channel 2, looking to play down the attack.

It was the first such incident since May. There was no immediate claim of responsibility for Thursday’s rocket fire and the Israeli army said it had not shot back across the border.

“The first indication is that the launch took place around the (Lebanese) village of Qlayle and our assessment up to now was that it was probably a launching done by a global jihadi organization,” said Peter Lerner, another Israeli military spokesman.

Hezbollah fought a war against Israel in 2006. It is now heavily engaged in the civil war in neighboring Syria, battling alongside President Bashar al-Assad’s forces against mainly Sunni Muslims, including Al Qaida loyalists.

The Israeli military said initial information showed that three or four rockets were launched, and that the “Iron Dome” anti-missile system had destroyed one of them between the Israeli coastal towns of Acre and Nahariya.

“The remaining rockets fell outside of Israeli territory,” the military said in a statement.

“I heard a weak explosion, and then in parallel to the siren, I heard a stronger boom,” Keinan Engel, a resident of Nahariya, told Army Radio. “I went to take cover, in a reinforced room.”

Eli Bean, director of Israel’s Magen David Adom ambulance service, said no one had been hurt.

Israeli leaders have voiced concern that jihadi terrorists in Syria could eventually turn their guns against Israel, or that Hezbollah might fire into Israel to deflect criticism from much of the Sunni Arab world for its potent support for Assad.