As attempts go, though, this one fails to impress. Obviously looking to expand the war to take the heat off of Hamas in Gaza, someone launched three rockets from southern Lebanon yesterday, moderately injuring two people in a retirement home. Hezbollah denied that they had attacked, and their denial makes some sense:
Two people were lightly wounded when terrorists in Lebanon fired three Katyusha rockets at the area of Nahariya in northern Israel on Thursday morning. The IDF returned fire.
One of the rockets went through the roof of a Nahariya retirement home and exploded in the kitchen as about 25 elderly residents were eating breakfast in the adjacent dining hall. One resident suffered a broken leg, another bruises, apparently from slipping on the floor after emergency sprinklers came on. …
An Al Jazeera reporter with close ties to Hizbullah said there was no chance the rockets were fired by the Shi’ite terror group, because the rockets were of an outdated model that Hizbullah had not used for years. Channel 10 also quoted him as saying that had Hizbullah wisheded [sic] to open a second front on Israel’s North it would have fired dozens of rockets and not only three.
When Hezbollah goaded Israel into a war in the sub-Litani region in 2006, they launched a large number of missiles, and more effective missiles, in their attack. Firing three old missiles sounds more like the actions of a Hamas auxiliary crossing the border in order to stir up another war to distract Israel from Gaza. However, it also seems unlikely that any group could haul around missiles without getting Hezbollah’s permission to do so, and Hezbollah might not mind the idea of Israel engaging them at this point.
The Lebanese government issued a statement saying that they would investigate the rocket fire and try to determine who attacked Israel. Their army defused eight Katyushas in December in the same town where this missile attack originated, but their ability to hold the line on attacks is obviously limited. Hezbollah dominates the sub-Litani, even after Beirut promised in 2006 to have its own army take control in that region and the UN bolstered its UNIFIL mission. Their writ does not consistently run in that area, thanks to Hezbollah, which means thanks to Iran and Syria.
Carl in Jerusalem is live-blogging the events. Right now, it looks as though the PFLP was responsible for the attack, and the Lebanese Army may have found eight more missiles. We can expect more provocation from Palestinian radicals and Hamas allies in attempting to relieve Gaza by opening a second front. They may be too late. Israel has gained most of their objectives in Gaza already, and any provocation could tempt Israel in doing the same to Hezbollah in Lebanon, unencumbered by Hamas in the south.