The Sheikh Abdullah Azzam Brigades, a militant group affiliated with Al-Qaida on Tuesday claimed responsibility for the four Katyusha rockets fired from Lebanon at Israel overnight.The rockets caused minor damage to two buildings and no casualties. Israeli Defense Forces responded with a brief artillery barrage. The United Nations UNIFIL peacekeepers deployed additional forces along the Israel-Lebanon border and stepped up their patrols in an effort to prevent an escalation.
The small organization, whose members live mostly in hideouts in Palestinian refugee camps across southern Lebanon, has claimed responsibility for past rocket attack on Israel, as well.
Rockets and missiles are regularly fired by Hamas in Gaza into Israeli towns in Southern Israel. However, incidents of rockets being fired into Israel from Lebanon have been rare since the Second Lebanese War in the summer of 2006. For over a month, Hezbollah fired thousands of rockets and missiles into Israel after the terrorist organization attacked and captured several IDF soldiers patrolling the border.
The timing of this escalation is very interesting given the developments in Syria, Lebanon, and the pressure being placed on Iran by Western nations. Is this really a small offshoot of al-Qaeda that is operating on it's own (where is it's source of weaponry?) or is this an effort being made by Iran, Syria, and Hezbollah to deflect attention and focus towards Israel?
Syria remains in near civil war as demonstrations against the Assad tyranny continue. The Arab League's sanctions against Syria are quite severe as pressure builds for stronger action in response to the government's murder of nearly 4,000 civilians since the demonstrations began.
In Lebanon, as reported yesterday, Hezbollah's hand picked Prime Minister took a brave stand against both Hezbollah and Syria to threaten his resignation if the Lebanese Parliament did not continue to press for the completion of the UN investigation and prosecution of the murderers of former Lebanese Prime Minister Hariri in 2005. Information released from the UN investigation point to senior Hezbollah and Syrian officials being complicit in the assassination.
If a crisis can be provoked between Hezbollah and Israel - attention and pressure will be moved from Iran and Syria. Emotions that are running against these governments will also be redirected towards Israel and anti-Israeli sentiments....the traditional deflection to focus on a 'common enemy'.