Rockets hit Israel, sparking tension

Rockets hit Israel, sparking tension

Rockets hit Israel, sparking tension

Italian U.N. peacekeeper soldiers, foreground, and Lebanese army forces, background, patrol an area where rockets were fired from south Lebanon. AP photo

A volley of rockets fired from Lebanon slammed into Israel yesterday, the Israeli army said, prompting retaliatory fire and sparking new tensions in the volatile region.

The incident marked the first cross-border exchange of fire since Aug. 1 and a rare instance of rockets being launched into Israel since the country waged war against Lebanese militant group Hezbollah in 2006. In a statement, the Israeli military said “a number of rockets” landed in the western Galilee region without causing any casualties and that Israeli troops “responded by targeting the origin of the fire.” Israeli media reported that a total of four Katyusha rockets hit the area, including one that struck a gas tank and caused a fire. In Lebanon, a military spokesman said at least one rocket was fired from the region of Rumaysh, and at least four Israeli rockets were fired in response.

 The UN peacekeeping force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) also confirmed the attack and urged maximum restraint to prevent an escalation. “UNIFIL radars detected firing of at least one rocket into Israel shortly after midnight last night from the general area of Rumaysh in south Lebanon,” it said in a statement. The region of Rumaysh is largely controlled by the powerful militant party Hezbollah, but an official from the group told AFP he had no immediate comment on Tuesday’s incident.

Israel’s Army Radio station said it was the eighth rocket attack since the 2006 war. Hezbollah has not claimed responsibility for any of the attacks, but smaller militant organizations, some Palestinian and some linked to al-Qaida, have launched rockets on several occasions.

Overall, however, the border has been largely quiet but tense since the 2006 war, which was sparked by a deadly cross-border attack by Hezbollah on an Israeli military patrol. During that fighting, Israel bombed Hezbollah’s strongholds and Hezbollah barraged northern Israel with nearly 4,000 rockets.

About 1,200 Lebanese and 160 Israelis were killed in the conflict, which ended with the U.N.-brokered truce that sent thousands of Lebanese troops and international peacekeepers to south Lebanon. Although the cease-fire agreement forbade Hezbollah to rearm, Israel contends the group has since replenished its arsenal with even more powerful weapons.

Compiled from AFP and AP stories by the Daily News staff.