BEIRUT (AP) – A Lebanon-based Al Qaeda-linked group claimed responsibility Thursday for a rocket attack against Israel this week, saying it was in retaliation for the Jewish state’s crackdown on protesters at a Jerusalem shrine.
The claim from a group calling itself the Battalions of Ziad Jarrah came two days after a rocket was fired from Lebanon into northern Israel, causing no casualties. Lebanese troops subsequently found and dismantled four rockets in the village of Houla near the border with Israel.
The claim of responsibility, made on a Web site often used by Islamic militants, could not be independently verified. The group is named after a Lebanese militant who as among the 19 suicide attackers that carried out the Sept. 11 attacks in the United States. It has claimed responsibility for previous rocket-firings across the border into Israel.
The group said its fighters set up five rockets in Houla on Tuesday night but one launched prematurely, leading the militants to flee the area leaving four rockets behind. It was the fifth such attack against Israel from Lebanon this year. Israel responded with artillery fire, but there were no reports of casualties.
Earlier this month, Israel troops cracked down to disperse hundreds of stone-throwing Palestinian protesters in a fresh eruption of violence at the most volatile spot in the Holy Land. The site is known to Jews as the Temple Mount and to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary.
The Israeli crackdown drew condemnation from throughout the Muslim world.