Last Updated: Tue Nov 02, 2010 17:58 pm (KSA) 14:58 pm (GMT)

Lebanon-Israel tensions mount after dual attacks

A file photo of rockets fired from south Lebanon into northern Israel
A file photo of rockets fired from south Lebanon into northern Israel

Additional U.N. troops were deployed Thursday in southern Lebanon to prevent any further incidents following an exchange of fire that sowed panic on both sides of the tense border.

At least three rockets were fired into northern Israel from an area near the Israeli border early Thursday, provoking a response from Israel, which fired back into southern Lebanon.

"Three rockets landed in Israel fired from Lebanon," said Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld, adding that two people were lightly wounded in the area around the northern town of Nahariya.

"We carried out direct fire at the source of the rocket fire from Lebanon," an Israeli army spokeswoman said.

A Lebanese army spokesman told AFP: "Between two and three rockets were fired from southern Lebanon. Israel has retaliated with five or six rockets."

A U.N. spokesperson said the Lebanese army had also sent reinforcements to the region after prompting fears of an escalation of the conflict in the Gaza Strip.

No claims of responsibility

Italian peacekeeping troops from the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon patrol in the village o

No group had claimed responsibility for the salvo, with the Lebanese opposition group Hezbollah and the Palestinian group Hamas quick to deny responsibility for the which came as Israel pushed on with its 13-day-old invasion of the Gaza Strip.

"We cannot blame any Palestinian faction and we don't know who fired the rockets," Hamas spokesman in Lebanon, Raafat Morra, told AFP.

"Hamas is pursuing its combat inside Palestine and our principle is not to use any other Arab soil to respond to the occupation. This is our firm policy," he said.

"Basically what is happening is the fault of Israel because it is impossible to contain the Arab and Islamic world after the Gaza massacre."

Possible involvement

 Hamas is pursuing its combat inside Palestine and our principle is not to use any other Arab soil to respond to the occupation. This is our firm policy, 
Hamas spokesman in Lebanon Raafat Morra

Israeli media reported that the rockets fired from Lebanon could have been set off by Palestinian groups in retaliation for the war in Gaza. Radio and television reports cited unnamed military sources saying it was likely an isolated attack.

Israeli analysts have said the Iranian-backed Hezbollah group may try to get involved in Israel's battle against Hamas.

Israel and Lebanon's Hezbollah militia fought a 34-day war in 2006, after fighters from the Lebanese Shiite movement seized two Israeli soldiers in a deadly cross-border raid.

During the conflict, Hezbollah sent more than 4,000 rockets into northern Israel.

The war killed more than 1,200 Lebanese, mostly civilians, and more than 160 Israelis, mostly soldiers.

Fiery speech by Nasrallah

Israeli forces have been on high alert in the north fearing that Hezbollah could send rocket salvoes into northern Israel as they did in the 2006 conflict and lend support to Hamas and the Gaza Strip's 1.5 million inhabitants.

Shiite Hezbollah has not opened fire in the 13 days since Israeli forces started bombarding the Gaza Strip to the south of Israel with the declared aim of halting rocket attacks from the Hamas-ruled territory.

In June 2007, Palestinians in Lebanon fired two rockets that hit near the Israeli town of Kiryat Shmona.

Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah on Wednesday warned that "all possibilities" were open against Israel in a a fiery speech in which he also rebuked Arab leaders for mediating a truce with Israel instead of siding with embattled Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.

His comment marked the first time he has spoken so openly on the possibility of a renewed conflict with Israel since the war in Gaza began on Dec. 27.

Israel has warned Hezbollah against igniting a second front, saying it would retaliate massively.

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