Israel Bombs Lebanon After Rocket Attacks, Continues Palestinian Peace Talks
On Friday, Israel dropped bombs in Lebanon during its first airstrike on the nation since the end of the 2006 war between Israel and Lebanese militant group Hezbollah.
Israeli officials said that the airstrike, which reportedly targeted a base of the militant group Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine General Command, was in response to four rockets fired at Israel just hours before. A spokesman for the Israeli military said that the airstrike was successful and that “Israel will not tolerate terrorist aggression originating from Lebanese territory.”
The Popular Front has denied their involvement in the rocket attacks on Israel and a group linked to al Qaeda has stepped forward to take responsibility for the assault.
Tensions between the two countries have been mounting after four Israeli soldiers were wounded in an explosion on the border between the two countries. Whether or not the soldiers had entered Lebanese territory remains unclear. On Friday, one of the rockets sent into Israeli territory was taken down by the Iron Dome Defense System, and another reportedly just missed a retirement home. Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu used the assault as an opportunity to threaten all would-be attackers of Israel saying, “Anyone who attacks us, or tries to attack us, should know that we will get him.”
The aggressive response to Lebanon comes as Israel and Palestine are in the midst of negotiating peace talks. This week marked the third round of talks. According to reports, the discussion included setting an agenda for issues including borders, settlements, and Jerusalem. Some have said that the meeting may have included both sides acknowledging that a shared Jerusalem may be a necessity in order for real peace to be achieved. In a report from TIME, Ofer Shelah, a member of the Yesh Atid "There Is a Future" party, a partner group of Netanyahu, said that "somewhere within the borders of Jerusalem, we’ll have to say, this side is Israeli and this side is for the Palestinians. I’m not saying it’s not complicated...But I don’t think the Palestinians would ever agree to a peace deal that would not see East Jerusalem as their capital."
The peace talks, which resumed after a five year hiatus, have continued despite concern that Israel's announcement of homebuilding on contested territory and an airstrike on the Gaza Strip could halt the meetings. As a part of negotiations, Israel freed a group of Palestinian prisoners earlier this month.