Israel strikes southern Lebanon in response to rocket fire


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JERUSALEM — Israeli tanks fired into southern Lebanon early Monday in response to a rocket fired from the country, the Israeli military said.

The incident along Israel’s northern border comes at a time of heightened tensions between Israelis and Palestinians. In recent weeks, there have been a series of attacks on Israel’s northern border, including lethal raids by Israel to arrest Palestinians, rocket attacks against Israel from Gaza Strip-controlled Hamas, and clashes at a Jerusalem holy place.

It has been the worst violence to shake the region since an 11-day war between Israel and Gaza militants last year.

In a statement, the Israeli military said the rocket landed in an open area in northern Israel early Monday, causing no damage or injuries. The Israeli military stated that the rocket struck the “sources of the projectile launched” and “an infrastructure target in south Lebanon”. It also said that “routine activities in northern Israel were continuing, and no precautions needed to be taken by civilians.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the rocket fire, but Brig. Gen. Ran Kochav the military spokesperson stated that he believed the rocket was fired by Palestinian militants from Lebanon, prompted by recent events in Israel and Gaza.

He said Israel’s response was meant “to make clear to all who are on the other side, whether it is Palestinian factions, Hamas, the government of Lebanon or Hezbollah that we won’t allow Israeli sovereignty to be violated,” he said.

Lebanon’s military said at least 50 artillery shells struck several areas in the south early Monday but reported no casualties or damages. It said Israel also launched 40 flare bombs.

The military also said special Lebanese units dismantled two 122-mm Grad rocket systems found in the southern town of al-Qulailah.

The U.N. peacekeeping force, known as UNIFIL, said in a statement that its investigation into the incident was underway.

Israel and Lebanon’s militant Hezbollah group are bitter enemies that fought an inconclusive monthlong war in 2006. Since then, the border has been tense and quiet.

Small Palestinian groups are also active in Lebanon and have been suspected in several rocket attacks in recent years.

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