Lebanon: Hezbollah and Israeli forces trade rocket and drone strikes
Lebanese armed group Hezbollah on Sunday launched a number of artillery and military strikes targeting Israeli positions in the occupied Shebaa Farms area.
The Israeli army responded with artillery strikes and a drone attack in the contested border area, which is known in Israel as Mount Dov.
In a statement, Hezbollah said the attacks had been carried out “in solidarity” with Palestinian fighters attacking southern Israel from Gaza on Saturday.
It said it had struck three positions "on the road to liberate our occupied Lebanese lands ".
In footage posted on social media which purported to show a Hezbollah artillery strike, smoke could be seen rising from a hillside close to what appeared to be an Israeli military installation.
The Israeli army said it had struck targets in the area in response and released footage of what appeared to be a drone strike hitting a Hezbollah site.
“The IDF [Israeli Defence Forces] has taken preparational measures for this type of possibility. We will continue to operate in all regions and at any time necessary to ensure the safety of the Israeli civilians,” it said in a statement.
The United Nations peacekeeping force in the area, known as Unifil, said it had detected “several rockets fired from southeast Lebanon toward Israeli-occupied territory in the general area of Kafr Chouba, and artillery fire from Israel to Lebanon in response”.
It said some of its personnel had moved to shelters for their safety. There have so far been no reports of any casualties.
No official border exists between Israel and Lebanon. The frontier is known as the Blue Line, which was established by the United Nations in 2000 as part of Israel’s withdrawal from southern Lebanon, which had been occupied by Israeli forces since 1978.
Unifil said: “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.
“We urge everyone to exercise restraint and make use of Unifil's liaison and coordination mechanisms to de-escalate to prevent a fast deterioration of the security situation.”
Tensions along the border fence flared up in July after Israeli forces completed building a wall that included part of a village that Lebanon considers part of its territory. Exchanges of fire between Hezbollah and Israeli forces occur periodically.
Battles in southern Israel were reported to be ongoing on Sunday morning.
At least 300 Israelis have been killed in the attacks and in missile strikes from Gaza, according to Israeli media reports. At least 256 people have been killed in Gaza by Israeli air strikes.
In a statement on Saturday, Hezbollah said it congratulated “the resisting Palestinian people” and praised Hamas on what it described as a “large-scale, heroic operation”.