Jerusalem, Dec. 12 - A rocket fired from southern Lebanon toward Israel fell short and hit a Lebanese border village, Houla, late Sunday. A Lebanese woman was seriously injured, news reports said.
The attack comes two weeks after several rockets fired from Lebanon exploded in Israel. It also follows an attack on UNIFIL, United Nations peacekeepers in Lebanon, in which five French soldiers were wounded Friday (Dec. 9). It was the third attack this year on an international force in Lebanon, the Associated Press reported.
French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said Sunday that he believed the “pro-Syrian Hezbollah” was behind the bombing on UNIFIL. “We have very good reason to believe these attacks come from Syria,” he said on French radio. He called Hezbollah Syria’s “military arm in Lebanon.”
Hezbollah, the Iranian-backed Lebanese Shi’ite terror group, maintains close relations with Damascus. There are fears that Syria’s ongoing violence may be spilling into Lebanon, which is “deeply divided between supporters and opponents of the Syrian regime,” The Washington Post reported.
Pro-democracy protests have engulfed Syria for the past nine months. Syria’s ongoing violence and a possible new round of sanctions against Iran due to its illicit nuclear program could also be regional triggers of the rocket-fire on Israel.
“And on the background of the political-security predicament in Syria, the complexities of the relationship between Iran and the West, and the exchange of threats with Israel, with this reflecting in Hezbollah’s escalating tone” wrote Abdullah Iskandar in Al-Arabiya.
Speaking at a conference in Vienna Sunday, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s days are numbered. “The Assad family and its loyalists have to date killed more than 4,000 people across Syria and it is heading towards the end of its rule,” said Barak according to a media statement. He also noted that the Arab League has imposed sanctions on Syria and that a regime change in Syria would be a “blow to the Iran-Hezbollah axis.”
Israel’s Vice Prime Minister and Minister of Strategic Affairs Moshe Ya’alon echoed Barak’s sentiment at a briefing organized by The Israel Project Monday: “I have no doubt that Hezbollah will be weaker as a result of the fall of Assad.”