JERUSALEM, (Reuters) – Israel said on Saturday it viewed rockets fired from Lebanon as an isolated incident but would be ready to take “massive action” if any border violence continued.
Speaking on Israel Radio a day after two rockets struck northern Israel in the first such attack in seven months but causing no injury, Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon said Israel expected United Nations peacekeepers and Lebanon to prevent further attacks.
The shootings raised tensions along a border that remains volatile three years after a war between the Jewish state and Hezbollah Islamist guerrillas in Lebanon.
Israel retaliated swiftly for the rockets by firing a dozen artillery rounds at Lebanon, with no injuries reported. Ayalon said no further military action was called for now and that Israel saw the incident as an isolated occurrence.
“There’s no interest in escalating the situation,” Ayalon said. “We must make clear that if Israel is forced, if the quiet is disrupted, Israel will know to restore calm, even if it is forced to take massive action.”
Ayalon accused Lebanon of failing to prevent smuggling of weapons by Hezbollah, the Iranian- and Syrian-backed Shi’ite movement, but stopped short of blaming the group for the rockets, for which no group has as yet claimed responsibility.
Both Washington and the United Nations condemned the violence and urged continued adherence to a 2006 truce that ended a month-long war between Israel and Hezbollah.
P.J. Crowley, a spokesman for the U.S. State Department, said Friday the rocket fire was in “clear violation” of that ceasefire and showed “the urgent need to bring arms in Lebanon under control of the state.”
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged both sides, in a statement, to exercise restraint and said U.N. peacekeeping troops known as UNIFIL were investigating the circumstances of the incident.