An Israeli fighter bomber flew over most of the south on Wednesday, particularly over the town of Nabatiya where it caused supersonic booms, police said.

Overnight, Israeli artillery gunners also fired 16 shells in the occupied Shebaa Farms, according to media reports, despite calls from US Secretary of State Colin Powell for both sides to avoid escalations.

These were the latest incidents after a flare-up of violence that started with Israeli violations of Lebanese airspace on Monday which drew anti-aircraft fire from Hizb Allah resistance fighters and UN condemnation.
 
On the same day Hizb Allah also destroyed an Israeli military bulldozer which UN peacekeepers in the region said was within Lebanese territory. The rocket strike left one Israeli soldier dead and a second wounded. In retaliation, Israeli jets struck south Lebanon late on Tuesday.

UN patrols

On the ground, Hizb Allah fighters kept a low profile along the volatile border as UN peacekeepers stepped up their patrols on Wednesday.

Hizb Allah appeared to rule out a military retaliation, but warned it would respond to any new Israeli violation of Lebanese sovereignty. 

UN peacekeepers stepped up
patrols to maintain calm

"We will not accept that the aggressions continue without response. We are ready to respond with strength to any Israeli aggression," warned Shaikh Naiem Qasam, Hizb Allah's deputy leader.

But he ruled out an escalation after the latest flare-up. 

Israel said it was moving towards avoiding an escalation on its northern border.
 
Israeli government spokesman Avi Pazner said the air raids were "a warning to Hizb Allah, which should understand it cannot continue its attacks with impunity, and to Syria, which supports it while talking of peace".

Syria, the main power-broker in Lebanon, says it provides moral support to Hizb Allah, but denies US charges of providing weapons and financial support.

Tehran's reaction 

Meanwhile, Iran's foreign ministry condemned the Israeli raids, which it said "put in danger the stability and security of the sensitive Middle East region".

Tehran also says it provides moral support to Hizb Allah and denies US and Israeli charges of providing arms and financial support.

Foreign ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi was also quoted as denouncing Israel's latest assassination threat against Hamas' Palestinian spiritual leader Shaikh Ahmad Yasin.