The Israeli army has announced that it has intercepted a barrage of rockets fired from Lebanon.
“A rocket was fired from Lebanon into Israeli territory and was successfully intercepted,” an initial army statement said on Thursday as Israeli media reported a “salvo” of projectiles had been fired – the first fired from Lebanon since last April.
Warning sirens had sounded in the town of Shlomi and in Moshav Betzet in northern Israel, the army added.
The Israeli military later tweeted that 34 rockets had been fired from Lebanon, with 25 intercepted, and at least four landing in Israel.
The rocket attack was followed by a burst of Israeli artillery fire back across the border, reported Lebanon’s National News Agency without reporting any casualties.
According to the Lebanese report, Israeli artillery fired “several shells from its positions on the border” towards the outskirts of two villages after the launch of “several Katyusha type rockets” at Israel.
The Israeli military, however, told AFP that it had not retaliated.
The rockets were fired by Palestinian factions, and not the armed Lebanese group Hezbollah, security sources told the Reuters news agency.
The MDA ambulance service in Israel announced that three people were injured in the rocket fire, including a 19-year-old man with shrapnel injuries in mild condition and a 60-year-old woman injured while running to a nearby shelter. Several others were treated for shock.
The UN peacekeeping force in south Lebanon, known as UNIFIL, announced in a statement that there had been “multiple rocket launches from southern Lebanon toward Israel” and the Israeli army had informed UNIFIL that it activated its Iron Dome defence system in response.
The head of the peacekeeping force, Major General Aroldo Lazaro, has been in contact with both Lebanese and Israeli authorities, the statement said.
“The current situation is extremely serious. UNIFIL urges restraint and to avoid further escalation,” it added.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was “receiving continuous updates about the security situation and will conduct an assessment with the heads of the security establishment,” his office announced.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack, which came amid attacks by Israeli forces on Palestinian worshippers at Al-Aqsa this week, and led to regional and global condemnation of Israel.
On another border – the one with the besieged Gaza Strip – Palestinian armed groups in the Gaza Strip fired rockets into southern Israel for a second day in a row, according to the Israeli military.
No casualties were reported in Thursday’s early morning rocket fire from the Gaza Strip.
The rocket fire came after Israeli troops stormed the Al-Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalem’s Old City for a second night on Wednesday, preventing Palestinian worshippers from entering the mosque for dawn prayers.
In an earlier Israeli raid in Tuesday, Israeli forces attacked worshippers at the Al-Aqsa mosque. At least 12 Palestinians were injured and more than 400 others detained on the eve of the 15th day of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan and the first day of the Jewish holiday of Passover.
Two Palestinian factions, Hamas and the Islamic Jihad, said in a statement that any “attempts [by Israel] to change the status quo in Al-Aqsa Mosque, or to Judaise the site, would ignite an unprecedented war on all fronts, especially from the Gaza Strip.”