The Israeli army says it has fired artillery shells into Lebanon after rocket fire was launched from Lebanon into Israel amid rising tensions in the region.
“Three rockets were fired from Lebanon into Israeli territory,” the army said in a statement on Wednesday, adding that one had fallen short of the border. “In response … artillery forces fired into Lebanese territory.”
Israeli broadcaster Channel 12 reported that one rocket exploded in an open area and another was intercepted by Israel’s defence system, known as the Iron Dome.
Witnesses in Lebanon also reported that several rockets were fired at Israel.
Israeli medics distributed images of a brush fire and said they treated four people suffering “stress symptoms”. It was not immediately clear whether Lebanon had any casualties.
Sirens warning of a rocket attack sounded in several Israeli communities, including the town of Kiryat Shmona, near the Lebanese border.
The Israeli military said it had imposed no restrictions on civilians in northern areas.
Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said he and defence minister Benny Gantz had been “briefed” on developments and were overseeing the response.
The exchange of fire comes days after Israel joined other states in accusing Iran of being behind an apparent drone attack on an Israeli-linked tanker off Oman, which killed two crew members, and hinted at possible retaliation.
Iran denied the allegation and warned it would “respond to any possible adventurism”.
On July 20, two rockets were launched from Lebanon intro Israel, causing no damage or injuries. That incident came hours after a Syrian military official said Israel carried out air attacks near the northern Syrian city of Aleppo.
In May, rockets were fired from southern Lebanon several times in one week – Israel’s army said the rockets landed in the sea.
On May 14, a Lebanese man was shot and killed by Israeli troops after he and others tried to cross a security fence on the border with Israel while protesting in support of Palestinians marking the 73rd anniversary of the Nakba, what Palestinians call “the catastrophe” that befell them in the war against Israel in 1948.
Israel fought a 2006 war against Iran-backed Hezbollah, which is the dominant force in southern Lebanon and possesses advanced rockets. The border has been mostly quiet since then.
Lebanon has been run by a caretaker administration for nearly a year while its currency has collapsed, jobs have vanished and banks have frozen accounts in what lenders have called one of the most severe financial crises of modern times.