Several days before Israel launched Operation Cast Lead in the Gaza Strip, Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki called several of his European counterparts and warned that Israel would face additional fronts if it attacked.
The rocket fire on Thursday morning from Lebanon into northern Israel can be seen as the realization of the Iranian threat.
By Yoav Stern
It is safe to assume that Palestinian operatives, working in coordination with Hezbollah and sponsored by Iran, are responsible for the rocket attacks in Nahariya and elsewhere in the north.
The rocket fire also places Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah among the list of top Arab militant leaders. He doesn’t just talk, he acts.
For now, Hezbollah is too sophisticated to claim responsibility for Thursday’s rocket fire. Elections in Lebanon are scheduled to take place in about six months, and Hezbollah does not want to be perceived as the party that once again disrupted the relative calm the country has experienced. The group does not want to risk its standing at the polls.
However, Nasrallah’s rhetoric from recent days says it all: “We are prepared for all Israeli aggression,” he said. In other words, Hezbollah won’t take responsibility for the rockets into Israel, but will claim credit for standing up against any Israeli retaliatory attacks, should there be any.
Nasrallah has already hinted that sources linked to Israel were responsible for the placement of rocket launchers discovered in Lebanon two weeks ago, not far from where rockets were fired from Thursday.
He also said that his operatives in south Lebanon are prepared to confront Israel and that any future war will make the Second Lebanon War look like a ‘walk in the park.’
Israel must now decide what the price tag will be for Thursday’s attacks on the north, knowing that a harsh response is likely to bring with it an escalation on the northern front and increasing international criticism.
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From The New York Times:
The rockets, presumably launched in support of Hamas, could presage the opening of a second front. The Israeli Army, in a brief statement, said it “responded with fire against the source of the rockets,” which landed near the town of Nahariya. Two Israelis were slightly wounded, the police said.
So far there has been no claim of responsibility. A spokeswoman for the militant group Hezbollah, which triggered a war with Israel in 2006 by firing rockets into northern Israel from Lebanon, was investigating. “We are still looking for information about it,” she said.
Prime Minister Fuad Saniora immediately condemned the attack.