3 rockets fired from Lebanon hit north Israel; IDF returns fire
Two of three rockets explode inside Lebanon; 3 more Grad rockets found, dismantled by Lebanese security.
At least three Katyusha rockets were fired from Lebanon at northern Israel on Wednesday morning, reigniting fears of a second front opening during Israel's offensive against Hamas in Gaza.
The Israel Defense Forces responded soon after, firing a number of artillery shells at "the source of fire" near the village of Kfar Hamam in southern Lebanon, the army said. Lebanese security officials said a total of eight shells were fired.
The Israel Police initially said that the rockets had struck open areas in Kiryat Shmona, but after combing the area concluded that two of the three rockets had actually exploded inside Lebanon. There were no reports of damage or injuries. Residents of northern Israel were instructed to go into bomb shelters.
Lebanese television reported that four rockets had been launched from an area close to the south Lebanon town of Hasbaya.
Hours after the initial morning exchange, three more Grad rockets that were set to be fired were discovered and dismantled by Lebanese troops, Lebanese security officials said.
Israeli helicopter gunships flew reconnaissance missions along the heavily protected border as Lebanese troops and UN peacekeepers sent out patrols, Lebanese officials said. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not allowed to speak to the press.
The area from where the rockets were fired is controlled by Lebanese troops and the UN peacekeeping force.
A spokeswoman for the 13,000-strong UN Interim Force in Lebanon said Wednesday that the exact location of the latest firing has not been confirmed.
Yasmina Bouziane said the mission, in cooperation with the Lebanese army, is currently investigating on the ground in the eastern part of the peacekeepers' sector to locate the launching site.
The IDF Northern Command has been making continuous assessments of the situation on the Lebanese border, the army said in a statement. It also said that Israel holds Lebanon's government and army responsible for preventing rocket fire at Israel.
A rocket alert siren was heard in the town of Kiryat Shmona, which was battered by hundreds of the rockets fired by Hezbollah during the Second Lebanon war.
A similar incident occurred on Thursday, when at least two Katyusha rockets fired from south Lebanon exploded in northern Israel. Two people were lightly wounded in the attack, and a number of others suffered from shock.
Israel Defense Forces troops immediately fired five artillery shells at Lebanon in response to the rockets, an Israeli security source said. A military spokesman said Israel aimed "a pinpoint response at the source of fire."
Israeli officials have expressed concern that militants in Lebanon could try to open a second front in the Gaza campaign in solidarity with Hamas.
A Hezbollah minister in Lebanon's Cabinet denied any involvement by the militant group in the firing of the rockets on Thursday. In 2006, Hezbollah guerrillas in Lebanon fired almost 4000 rockets at Israel during the Second Lebanon War.