Which jihadist? Israel mulls mystery rockets

No organisation took responsibility for the missiles fired from Lebanon into Israel last weekend.

Five Katyusha rockets were launched but only one landed on Israeli territory, in an open field by the town of Kiryat Shmona. No damage or casualties resulted. IDF artillery fired a number of salvoes towards the launch-area in south Lebanon.

This was the second time rockets were fired from Lebanon towards Israel this year and it came only a week and a half after an Israeli solider was shot dead by a “rogue” Lebanese Army sniper.

Defence Minister Moshe Yaalon said: “We see the Lebanese government and its army as responsible for the firing and for whatever happens in its area.” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu blamed Hizbollah, saying that the organisation “orchestrates fire on Israeli citizens as it tried to do today”.

Mr Netanyahu did not say, however, that Hizbollah had itself fired the missiles, and Israeli security sources were unsure whether it was actually behind the incident.

There are currently two alternative theories as to the source of the Katyushas. One possibility is that, as in recent years, they were fired by splinter jihadist Palestinian groups aligned with al-Qaeda. In this view, the attack had no connection to Hizbollah, which is currently seen by those terror groups as a mortal enemy due to its military campaign on the side of the Assad regime in Syria. The second possibility is that despite not having fired towards Israel for seven and a half years — since the end of the Second Lebanon War — Hizbollah was involved as part of a wider attempt to destabilise the area.

Many in Lebanon are also accusing Hizbollah of being behind the assassination of former Lebanese finance minister Mohamad Chatah in a car-bomb in Beirut on Friday.

Mr Chatah, a moderate Sunni, was a prominent figure in Lebanese politics, a central critic of Hizbollah’s intervention in Syria and seen by some as a potential prime minister. His murder comes after a series of attacks on both Shia and Sunni targets attributed to Hizbollah and its enemies in the Syrian civil war.

Last updated: 9:45am, January 3 2014