Jerusalem: Two rockets fired from Lebanon hit Israel on Wednesday, prompting an artillery response amid rising regional tensions following an alleged Iranian attack on an oil ship in the Gulf last week.
There were no casualties on the Israeli side of the mountainous border, where the rockets sparked a bush fire, according to Israel’s Magen David Adom national ambulance service.
The rocket attack, which was launched from an area in south Lebanon controlled by Iranian-backed Hezbollah militants, elicited no immediate claim of responsibility.
Israel’s military claimed in a statement that three rockets were fired from Lebanon, one of which missed the Israeli border and the others striking within Israel. Several rockets were also launched at Israel, as per witnesses in Lebanon.
‘In response, (Israeli) artillery forces attacked Lebanese territory,’ the military said. Two hours after the initial bombardment, the military claimed its artillery had fired at locations along the border that it could not identify.
Israeli retaliation assaults on numerous towns in south Lebanon, according to the Lebanese army, resulted in a fire in the town of Rashaya al-Fokh. It was looking into who had launched the missiles from Lebanon.
Major General Stefano Del Col, the UN Interim Force in Lebanon’s Head of Mission and Force Commander, stated he was in communication with both parties.
‘He urged them to cease fire and to exercise maximum restraint to avoid further escalation, especially on this solemn anniversary,’ the statement said, referring to the Beirut port explosion on Aug 4 last year.
Since Israel’s 2006 battle against Hezbollah, which possesses upgraded missiles, the border has remained relatively quiet.
Small Palestinian factions in Lebanon, on the other hand, have shot rockets towards Israel on a periodic basis in the past and two rockets were fired at Israel on July 20, inflicting no damage or casualties. Israel retaliated with artillery fire in response to the incident.
The latest border incidents followed an attack on a tanker off the coast of Oman last Thursday, which Israel blamed on Iran. A British crew member and a Romanian crew member were murdered. Iran has categorically denied any participation.
Defence Minister Benny Gantz told a gathering of ambassadors from UN Security Council members in Israel on Wednesday: ‘It is time for diplomatic, economic and even military deeds (against Iran) – otherwise the attacks will continue.’
Britain, Romania and Liberia warned the UN Security Council on Tuesday that it was ‘very likely’ that Iran deployed one or more drones to attack the ship.
On Sunday, the US and the UK said that they will collaborate with their partners to respond to the assault. On Tuesday, Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett stated that Israel was prepared to strike unilaterally against Iran if necessary.