Israel retaliates with artillery fire against Hezbollah rockets from Lebanon

Iran-backed Lebanese group said it targeted Israeli positions in the disputed border area of Shebaa Farms

The Israeli-occupied Shebaa Farms area from the village of Marjayoun in southern Lebanon. Reuters
Powered by automated translation

Follow the latest updates on the Israel-Gaza violence here.

Border tensions between Lebanon and Israel heightened on Sunday following two rounds of cross-border shelling between the two states.

The Israeli army retaliated with artillery fire into Lebanon after missiles were fired across the border early on Sunday into what Lebanon says are the Israel-occupied Shebaa Farms.

Lebanon's powerful Iran-backed Hezbollah group took responsibility for the first round of shelling across the border, but it remains unclear who was responsible for a second round about two hours later.

At least two people – both children – were injured in the Israeli retaliation, Lebanon's National News Agency said. The Lebanese Army, confirming the Israeli attacks, later said that the injured civilians were transferred to a hospital.

“In response to a Hezbollah attack from Lebanon into Israel, [Israeli army] artillery struck targets in the area. An IDF UAV also struck Hezbollah terrorist infrastructure in the area of Mount Dov,” the Israeli army said.

Hezbollah said it launched artillery and guided missiles at Israel following Israeli air strikes on the Gaza Strip as an act of solidarity with the “Palestinian resistance and the struggling and patient Palestinian people.”

On Sunday afternoon, Israel again shelled the area in south Lebanon.

Senior Hezbollah official Hashem Safieddine later said his group's “guns and rockets” were with the Palestinian people.

“Our history, our guns and our rockets are with you. Everything we have is with you,” he said on Sunday.

The group said that the attack was on three posts, including a “radar site” in the Shebaa Farms, which Beirut views as Israeli-occupied Lebanese land.

Israel warned Hezbollah against being involved in the fighting.

“We recommend Hezbollah not to come into this. If they come, we are ready,” army spokesman Richard Hecht told reporters.

The UN's peacekeeping force in southern Lebanon said on Sunday morning it “detected several rockets fired from south-east Lebanon towards Israeli-occupied territory in the general area of Kafr Chouba, and artillery fire from Israel to Lebanon in response”.

“We are in contact with authorities on both sides of the Blue Line, at all levels, to contain the situation and avoid a more serious escalation,” Unifil said.

“We urge everyone to exercise restraint and take advantage of the liaison and co-ordination mechanisms undertaken by Unifil to reduce the escalation and prevent the rapid deterioration of the security situation.”

On Sunday afternoon, the Lebanese Army said it was conducting patrols in the border region and was closely monitoring the situation in co-ordination with Unifil.

“It's a normal day in the south. My family is still there,” said Mohammed, 36, who is based in Beirut but originally from a village in the south of Lebanon.

The UN's special co-ordinator for Lebanon Joanna Wronecka said that she was “deeply concerned” by the exchange of fire and urged parties to “shield Lebanon and its people from further conflagration”.

Walid Joumblatt, the figurehead of the Druze minority community in Lebanon, called on Druze fighters in the Israeli military not to attack Palestinian forces.

Surprise attack

It comes as Israel and Gaza endure their worst violence in years, with more than 220 Palestinians and 250 Israelis killed since Saturday when Hamas militants crossed into Israel by air, sea, and land in a surprise attack.

Smoke could be seen rising from the area in a video posted to social media, and residents of towns in northern Israel have been instructed to stay near shelters.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has spoken of a “long war” as Israel grapples with some of the worst violence seen in decades, with a “significant number” of Israelis taken hostage by Hamas militants.

It has responded by launching a barrage of air strikes on the besieged Gaza Strip, killing at least 220 Palestinians and injuring more than 1,700.

The violence has stoked fears of greater tension with countries neighbouring Israel.

Hamas, which controls the blockaded Gaza Strip, called on all Palestinian groups and neighbouring Arab countries to join its attack on Israel.

Lebanese protesters and soldiers gathered at the border with Israel on Saturday as Hamas militants infiltrated almost 20 towns and villages bordering the Gaza Strip, taking a “significant number” of hostages and killing dozens of people at an outdoor festival.

The leader of Hamas' military wing, Mohammed Deif, said the assault was in response to a 16-year blockade of Gaza, increasing settlements and attacks by settlers on Palestinians in the West Bank, Israeli raids inside West Bank cities over the past year, and violent incursions into at Al Aqsa – holy to both Jews and Muslims.

Militants could be seen shooting at civilians in the town of Sderot, where they occupied the police station for several hours and went on house-to-house searches.

Unconfirmed reports suggest several Jordanians have tried to enter the occupied West Bank, where four Palestinians were killed on Saturday.

Hospitals in the West Bank have declared a state of emergency and said they are ready to treat the wounded.

Updated: October 08, 2023, 3:39 PM