By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent Worthy News
Hezbollah claimed its actions were in retaliation for Israeli airstrikes as tensions along the border mounted.
Amid the standoff, Israel’s army responded Friday with a new round of artillery fire towards Lebanon as tensions rapidly escalated across the border.
Hezbollah, which seeks the destruction of Israel, said it hit “open fields” near Israeli positions in the disputed Shebaa farms area, though no casualties were reported.
Shebaa Farms is an Israeli-occupied enclave where the borders of Israel, Lebanon, and Syria meet. Israel says it is part of the Golan Heights, which it captured from Syria in 1967. Lebanon claims it belongs to Lebanon, while the United Nations says it is Syrian territory and that Damascus and Israel should negotiate its fate.
Israel’s army spokesperson, Amnon Shefler, confirmed that 19 rockets had been fired from Lebanon by Hezbollah, with “16 landing in Israel”. He added that 10 had been intercepted by the defense system known as the Iron Dome, and three of the rockets landed in Lebanon.
Israel’s army also confirmed using artillery to fire back at Lebanon and warned it was prepared for any eventuality.
There were no immediate reports of casualties.
But the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (Unifil) has urged both sides to immediately back down, saying it was “dangerous,” but there were no signs of easing tensions.
“Unifil has detected rocket launches from Lebanon and return artillery fire by Israel. This is a very serious situation, and we urge all parties to a ceasefire,” Unifil said.
The Unifil was reportedly coordinating with the Lebanese army to strengthen security measures in the area. The mission added that it actively engaged with all sides “to prevent the situation from spiraling out of control.”
Israel blames Iran for fueling hatred towards the Jewish state through proxies such as Hezbollah in Lebanon.
However, “We believe that Hezbollah does not want a full-out war,” said Shefler, adding that neither did Israel. But he stressed the country was “prepared to defend its civilians.”
Israel also warned Thursday that it was “ready” to strike Iran where hardliner Ebrahim Raisi was sworn in as Iran’s new president.
Benny Gantz, the Israeli defense minister, said Western allies had “now reached the point” where military action against Iran was necessary.
Israel also said Friday it had appointed its president’s brother, former general Michael Herzog, as its next ambassador to the United States, highlighting his experience on Iran.
Tehran is currently negotiating with Washington and other world powers on reviving a 2015 deal that curbed the Islamic Republic’s nuclear work in exchange for the lifting of sanctions.
The government of Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett has warned against a return to the pact, citing concerns that Iran’s nuclear bomb-making potential could threaten Israel.
Israel also seeks international action against Iran over a deadly drone strike on an Israeli-managed tanker off Oman last week. Tehran denied responsibility for the attack in which two crew members, a Briton and a Romanian, were killed.
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