Israel escalated its response to rocket fire coming out of Lebanon early Thursday morning by launching airstrikes in the country, which Lebanese President Michel Aoun said targeted villages.
“Israel’s use of its air force to target Lebanese villages is the first of its kind since 2006,” Aoun said, referring to the 2006 war that killed over 1,000 people, mostly Lebanese civilians. He said Israel’s action “indicates the presence of aggressive, escalatory intentions in the midst of ongoing threats against Lebanon and its sovereignty.”
The Israeli military was responding to three rockets it said were fired out of southern Lebanon by “Palestinian terror groups,” although no one has taken responsibility. The rockets sparked fires in Israel, but no casualties were reported.
Israel initially responded by firing 92 artillery shells into Lebanon, which was followed by the airstrikes. So far, Lebanon has not reported casualties as a result of the bombardment.
According to The Times of Israel, the airstrikes were the first in Lebanon Israel has openly admitted to since 2014. Israeli warplanes frequently enter Lebanese airspace to bomb Syria. In July, Israel launched airstrikes against Syria from Lebanese airspace, and in the process, the warplanes also struck several villages in northern Lebanon.
Wednesday marked the one-year anniversary of the Beirut port explosion that killed over 200 people, which exacerbated the country’s economic crisis. Lebanon has been under an interim government since former Prime Minister Hassan Diab stepped down after the blast. Western powers are threatening to tighten sanctions on Lebanon if a new government is formed.