Rockets hit Israel from Lebanon, no casualties
At least two rockets from Lebanon struck northern Israel on Friday, prompting Israeli artillery to shell the fruit groves from which they were fired, security officials on both sides of the border said, Reuters reported.
No casualties were immediately reported by Israeli police, who said two rockets landed. Lebanese security sources, who reported at least two outgoing missiles and 15 incoming Israeli shells, did not say who may have fired the rockets.
Israeli television later reported a third missile damaged an electricity pylon.
An Israeli military spokesman said there were several rockets but no casualties and confirmed the Israeli army returned fire. The Israeli army holds the Lebanese government responsible, the spokesman said.
U.N. peacekeepers in Lebanon and the Lebanese army deployed extra troops to prevent any escalation, a spokeswoman for the UNIFIL peacekeeping force said.
"UNIFIL is in contact with both sides, urging them to exercise maximum restraint, uphold the cessations of hostilities and avoid taking steps which would lead to further escalation," Yasmina Bouziane said. UNIFIL was investigating the incident.
It was the first time since February that rockets had been fired from Lebanon into Israel, raising tensions along a border that remains volatile three years after a war between the Jewish state and Hezbollah Islamist guerrillas in Lebanon.
Occasional salvoes since then have been blamed by Israeli, Lebanese and U.N. peacekeeping forces in the area largely on fringe militant groups rather than on Hezbollah, the Iranian- and Syrian-backed Shi'ite movement which remains a powerful force in Lebanon, especially in the south.
During Israel's offensive against Hamas Islamists in the Gaza Strip in January, Hezbollah denied responsibility for several rockets fired from Lebanon. Security officials have said small groups active among Palestinian refugees or with links to al Qaeda were more likely to have mounted the attacks.