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At least three Katyusha rockets hit Lebanon on the 13th day of Israel’s offensive against Gaza. Many have been speculating on who’s to blame as no group claimed responsibility. Hezbollah has stated it is not involved, and Hamas declared its resistance will be centered in the Occupied Palestinian Territories only. The Real News spoke to George Rishmawi, founder and director of the International Middle East Media Center about the possibility of attacks from other countries surrounding Israel.

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Lebanon and Israel exchange fire

GERALDINE CAHILL (VOICEOVER), TRNN: Tensions in the Middle East intensified yesterday, as at least three Katyusha rockets were launched from Lebanon at the northern Israel town of Nahariya. Israel returned mortar fire, but the situation has since calmed. The Lebanese prime minister, Fouad Siniora, condemned the attacks. Many have been speculating whether Hezbollah is responsible, but Mohammed Fneish, Lebanese labor minister, a member of the Hezbollah bloc, denounced involvement.

MOHAMMED FNEISH (HEZBOLLAH), LEBANESE LABOR MINISTER (SUBTITLED TRANSLATION): We do not know the party that launched the missiles. We, as Hezbollah, have the courage to announce what we are doing.

CAHILL: To understand the significance of this new attack, The Real News spoke to George Rishmawi, founder and director of the International Middle East Media Center. George, many are speculating on whether Hezbollah is involved. What do you think?

GEORGE RISHMAWI, FOUNDER, INT’L MIDDLE EAST MEDIA CENTER: I don’t think that the attacks or the rocket launches from south Lebanon to Israel today was done by Hezbollah. I’m not sure that Hezbollah has this issue on their top priorities, although the Palestinian issue is on their priorities. But I don’t think it is a top priority. Besides, I mean, there are signs like the Katyusha rockets that were fired from south Lebanon, according to reports, are old models, and Hezbollah is equipped with new models and new rockets. And these Katyusha, it’s believed to be one of the Palestinian factions, although so far none of the Palestinian resistance have declared responsibility for this attack. There are branches for all the Palestinian political partis, and there are also some of the groups that were not part of the PLO [Palestine Liberation Organization]. Most people think that these rockets were launched by the PFLP General Command branch [Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine], led by Ahmed Jibril, but it’s not confirmed yet. There are Palestinian factions in the area and Lebanon, Hamas and Islamic Jihad, Fatah, there’s the PFLP, the DFLP (Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine), the Communist Party in Lebanon. So those groups could be involved in that.

CAHILL: Do you foresee rocket launching becoming a trend from groups in other countries surrounding Israel?

RISHMAWI: Such a kind of attack [cannot] be from a country other than Lebanon. I don’t believe Egypt or Jordan would allow, or if it is possible, even, that anything from Jordan or [inaudible] or Egypt can be launched against Israel. Besides, I mean, the strongest presence for armed groups are in Lebanon only. There is nothing like that in Jordan or in Egypt. From Syria, maybe there might be some chance; however, I cannot confirm. The Syrian regime was skeptical about their involvement and their control. If they want to be part of this war, I mean, there are Syrian locations that have been shelled or bombarded by Israel, and Syria never responded. So I don’t think they will allow Palestinians to respond. And I don’t think it will even increase from Lebanon, because the Palestinian factions, Palestinian resistance, armed resistance in Lebanon is very limited. [It’s under] very serious surveillance from the Lebanese government as well. Hamas declared today that all their resistance and their work is only inside the occupied Palestinian territories; there’s nothing from the other Arab countries, neither Syria nor Lebanon.

CAHILL: And what about resistance from the West Bank? Some Israeli media suggest a third intifada is possible.

RISHMAWI: There are demonstrations protesting, of course, the Israeli attacks on Gaza all over the West Bank. Third intifada I don’t think is [possible] at this time, or I don’t think that people are capable, actually, for launching a third intifada at this time, because tired from the previous one and the Israeli army does not give a chance for the people in the West Bank in general to rest or to, you know, like, accumulate momentum for a third intifada, because they are running the show in terms of attacks. And just in the West Bank they have been kidnapping civilians in many places. Besides, the [Palestinian] Authority actually is actually imposing very strong control over the demonstrations. So they are not allowing friction with the army.

CAHILL: Does this attack help Hamas?

RISHMAWI: I don’t think they are helping Hamas. Any other front [on the different side] from Gaza will make it easier for not Hamas in particular, but for the other people in Gaza. Israel has been calling for their reservists, and they are trying to deploy more soldiers in Gaza, and latest reports from the Israeli military cabinet that they are going to expand operations in Gaza, which means that they will need to focus on the Gaza Strip. And if they want to see a split, you know, between the Gaza Strip and the northern borders, that, I think, will weaken their military front somehow.


Please note that TRNN transcripts are typed from a recording of the program; The Real News Network cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.

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George N. Rishmawi is the director of the Palestinian Center for Rapprochement between People in Beit Sahour and co-founder of the International Solidarity Movement (ISM). Rishmawi is based in Beit Sahour, Palestine, and is also the Director of the International Middle East Media Center.