Israel shells south Lebanon after two rockets land near disputed Ghajar village

MEE Staff

Middle East Eye  /  July 6, 2023

Israel fired more than 15 artillery shells which hit around the communities of Kfar Chouba and Halta in south Lebanon.

The Israeli army shelled south Lebanon on Thursday morning after two rockets were launched from the area and exploded near the border fence with Israel.

Initially, the Israeli army denied reports that a mortar was launched from south Lebanon but then said that a rocket landed close to its border territory.

The incident is still being investigated, and it is unclear who was behind the launch of the rockets. Israeli officials thought initially that an old mine caused the explosion, Ynet reported.

“In response, the IDF is currently striking the area from which the launch was carried out in Lebanese territory,” an Israeli army statement said.

On Thursday morning, a rocket landed in Lebanese territory and the second near a disputed area on the Israel-Lebanese border, according to three security sources in Lebanon speaking to Reuters.

One of the rockets fell near Wazzani village in southern Lebanon, while the second rocket landed near the disputed village of Ghajar, which is close to the border of Lebanon, Israel, and the occupied Golan Heights, whose residents call themselves Syrians.

Hezbollah did not comment on the reports of the rocket fire.

However, the armed group condemned what it called “dangerous measures” taken by Israeli forces in the northern part of Ghajar, which Lebanon deems as part of its territory. 

Lebanese media reported Israel had fired “more than 15 artillery shells”, which hit the communities of Kfar Chouba and Halta on Thursday morning.

Israel and Lebanon remain foes, and a United Nations Interim Force (UNIFIL) in Lebanon patrols the fence border between them to keep peace in the region.

‘We saw the smoke’ 

A resident of Ghajar, a town on the border with Israel, Lebanon and the occupied Golan Heights, told Ynet he heard an explosion very close to the village houses, but on the Lebanese side, at 8am.

“We didn’t understand what happened. We saw the smoke coming out – and it was over on the other side. It didn’t sound like a mine but like a rocket falling. There are no mines in this area.”

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the reported rocket fire and no immediate comment from the Lebanese army or UNIFIL peacekeeping forces in southern Lebanon.

This is the latest cross-border incident between Israel and Lebanon since April, when Israel shelled southern Lebanon and blamed a Palestinian militant group for firing a barrage of rockets on the north of Israel.However, the cross-fire incident on Thursday came amid heightened tensions in the occupied West Bank after Israeli forces invaded the Jenin refugee camp, a stronghold for Palestinian armed resistance.