Who fired rockets into Israel from southern Lebanon?

Israel has carried out airstrikes in southern Lebanon targeting what it said were positions belonging to the Palestinian group Hamas.

The Israeli army said the bombing in the early hours of Friday was in response to a barrage of rockets fired by Hamas into Lebanon the previous day. Separately, it launched airstrikes at night against the besieged Gaza Strip, which is led by Hamas.

The firing of rockets comes after Israeli police this week attacked Palestinian worshipers at Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem for the second night in a row.

Here’s what you need to know.

What happened?

The Israeli army tweeted on Thursday that 34 rockets had been fired from Lebanon, 25 of which had been intercepted, and at least four had landed in Israel. It was the first missiles fired at Israel from Lebanon since last April and the largest launch since the powerful Shiite movement Hezbollah waged a war between Israel and Lebanon in 2006.

Medics in Israel said three people were injured in the rocket fire, including a 19-year-old man with shrapnel in mild condition and a 60-year-old woman who was injured while running to a nearby shelter. Several others were treated for shock.

The Israeli army announced in a short statement at 04:07 (01:07 GMT) on Friday that it is “currently striking in Lebanon”. A Lebanese TV station reported explosions near a Palestinian refugee camp in the southern port city of Tyre.

There were no casualties and most of the missiles fell in open spaces.

The Lebanese government said its troops and UN peacekeepers had launched an investigation to find the perpetrators.

On Friday, the Lebanese army said in a statement that it had located a rocket launcher, including several rockets, in the town of Marjaajoun, near the Israeli border.

Who fired the missiles?

There was no immediate responsibility for the rocket fire, which occurred this week amid attacks by Israeli forces on Palestinian worshipers near Al-Aqsa, which led to regional and global condemnation of Israel.

The Israeli army said it believed the rocket fire was “a Palestinian-oriented event” linked to the violence in Jerusalem.

Israeli military spokesman Richard Hecht said Hamas or Palestinian Islamic Jihad, both based in Gaza but also active in Lebanon, may be involved. He added that the military believed that Hezbollah and the Lebanese government were aware of what happened and were also responsible.

Separately, another army spokesman, Avichay Adraee, wrote on Twitter: “We are investigating the possibility of Iran’s involvement in the missile fire from Lebanon,” Adraee added on Twitter.

Both Hamas and Hezbollah are Iranian allies and recently announced a joint operating room.

But Hamas representative in Lebanon, Ahmed Abdel Hadi, told the Lebanese newspaper An-Nahar that the group “does not have any information about the rockets” launched at Israel.

“Security sources say Palestinian groups – many of which are armed and trapped in camps – were behind the incident,” Al Jazeera’s Zeina Khodr reported from Tyre.

“Some analysts say they could not have acted without the knowledge and support of Hezbollah,” she said, noting that the Lebanese group “holds sway” in the south of the country.

Mohanad Hage Ali, of the Carnegie Middle East Center, told Al Jazeera that in recent years “a large number of Hamas officials and representatives have emerged in Lebanon and to some extent also [have] Beirut as a base for their presence”.

Al Jazeera contacted several Hamas officials in the Gaza Strip and Lebanon, as well as the Palestinian Islamic Jihad group, but was unable to get a response.

A Lebanese security official, who spoke to the Associated Press news agency on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media, said the country’s security forces believed the rockets were launched by a Lebanon-based Palestinian armed group, not by Hezbollah. .

Could it be something else?

The escalation came after Israel stepped up its airstrikes against Iranian targets in neighboring Syria in recent weeks.

The Iranian government said last week in a rare admission that two of its military advisers were killed in an Israeli strike near Damascus and said it reserves the right to react at the appropriate time.

There have also been other incidents of late that have heightened tensions, including the alleged infiltration of an armed man suspected of entering Israel from Lebanon last month and blowing up a car at an intersection, according to the Israeli military.

What has been the reaction?

Hezbollah has not condemned the rocket fire. The deputy leader, Sheikh Naim Qassem, said in a Twitter post that the group was “vigilant” after Thursday’s gun battle across the Lebanon-Israel border.

But acting Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati warned against using Lebanon’s territory for acts that could threaten security in the country.

“Lebanon absolutely rejects any military escalation emanating from its country, and the use of Lebanese territory to conduct operations that could destabilize the existing stability,” Mikati said.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu promised a tough response.

“We will attack our enemies and they will pay the price for any act of aggression,” he said Thursday evening at the start of a security cabinet meeting in Jerusalem.

Iran, meanwhile, condemned the Israeli attacks in Lebanon and Gaza and, according to state media, called for action by international bodies.

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Nasser Kanaani said the ministry “strongly condemned the attacks… as a violation of Lebanon’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and a gross violation of international law and the human rights of the oppressed Palestinian nation , and called for an effective response by… world bodies. ”said the state media.