A fresh salvo of rockets was fired from south Lebanon towards Israel on Tuesday, prompting Israeli attacks on positions belonging to Hezbollah and retaliatory fire, in the third consecutive day of cross-border tensions.
The rocket launch, which was not immediately claimed, comes after Hamas militants launched an unprecedented multi-pronged attack on Israel’s southern flank from the blockaded Gaza Strip on the weekend.
“Rockets were fired from… southern Lebanon towards the Galilee” region in northern Israel, Lebanon’s official National News Agency (NNA) said.
A Lebanese military source, requesting anonymity as they were not authorised to speak to the media, said the rockets were fired from the town of Qlaileh, located in the south Lebanon district of Tyre.
“In response to the launches identified from Lebanese territory toward Israeli territory, IDF (army) soldiers are currently responding with artillery fire,” Israeli forces said.
Israeli army tanks bombed Hezbollah “two observation posts” in response to the rocket fire, the military added on X, formerly Twitter, adding that Israel is ready “for all scenarios in all arenas”.
The army also said one of its helicopters struck another Hezbollah observation post in response to an “anti-tank missile launched from Lebanon toward a military vehicle”.
Lebanon’s Iran-backed Hezbollah movement said in a statement that “in response to Israeli attacks” on a number of the group’s observation points, its fighters targeted an Israeli armoured personnel carrier “with two guided missiles”.
Tuesday’s exchange of fire comes a day after Israeli strikes on Lebanon killed three Hezbollah members, according to the group.
The United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), which acts as a buffer between Lebanon and Israel, said it was in contact with both sides “to de-escalate this very dangerous situation.”
There were no immediate reports of casualties on the Lebanese side, according to the NNA, which said areas targeted included the village of Dhayra near the border.
An AFP photographer said Israeli fire also struck areas further west in Kfarshuba and near the contested Shebaa Farms.
– ‘Insignificant’ –
Hours earlier, AFP correspondents in the Goren area in northern Israel saw soldiers moving tanks and manning roadblocks.
“Things are tense here. The atmosphere is bad, it’s like a war situation,” said Yaakov Regev, 67, a resident of Kalanit in northern Israel.
“We are not afraid,” Aharon Hillel, 62, from the community of Alma, close to the border.
“We don’t care about (Hassan) Nasrallah or Hezbollah or anything,” he said, referring to the Shiite Muslim movement’s chief.
“To us, they are dust, insignificant,” he added.
On Monday, Hezbollah said it retaliated to Israeli strikes that killed three of its members by striking two Israeli barracks.
Also Monday, Israel’s army said its soldiers had “killed a number of armed suspects” who had crossed the frontier from Lebanon.
The Palestinian Islamic Jihad group’s armed wing, which claims to be fighting Israel alongside Hamas, said it was behind the thwarted infiltration bid.
On Sunday, Hezbollah said it had fired artillery shells and guided missiles at Israel, “in solidarity” with attacks launched from Gaza by its ally Hamas.
Israel’s army said it hit back with artillery into southern Lebanon.
In 2006 Hezbollah and Israel fought a 34-day war that left more than 1,200 dead in Lebanon, mostly civilians, and 160 in Israel, mostly soldiers. The two countries remain technically at war.
Israel and the US have warned Hezbollah against involvement in the war with Gaza.