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Rockets fired from south Lebanon, Israel responds with shelling

The cross-border fire is the third in less than week, as tensions over Israeli bombing of Gaza increases
Lebanese soldiers stand in Maroun al-Ras village, near the border with Israel, in southern Lebanon (Reuters)

Four rockets were fired from southern Lebanon towards northern Israel, military officials said, as the Israeli army responded with artillery fire. 

Two landed in the northern city of Shfaram, the Israeli police said, adding that they caused no damage or injuries.

"Four rockets were fired from Lebanon into Israeli territory" and Israel's air defences intercepted one while the rest "likely fell in open areas", the military said in a statement.

"In response, [the Israeli army's] artillery are striking a number of targets in Lebanese territory," it said.

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The rockets were launched from near Seddiqine, a village in the region of the coastal city of Tyre, Lebanese sources told Reuters. One security source said Hezbollah had not been involved and was trying to determine the source of the rockets. 

Sirens warning of incoming rockets had sounded in the lower Galilee, in northern Israel. Residents of the town of Krayot, near Haifa, told Reuters that they heard three explosions. There were no immediate reports of damage on either side.

It is the third time rockets have been fired from Lebanese territory towards Israel in less than a week since Israel launched a massive military operation on the Gaza Strip on 10 May.

On Monday, six rockets fired from the Shebaa Farms area in south Lebanon but fell short of crossing the border. Last Thursday, three Grad rockets were fired towards Israel from near the Palestinian refugee camp of Rashidiyeh toward Israel, but the Israeli military said they landed in the Mediterranean Sea. 

No side has claimed responsibility for the rocket launches but small Palestinian factions in Lebanon, unrelated to Hezbollah, have fired on Israel sporadically in the past, including during the 2014 Gaza War.

'Conquer them'

The strikes come as tensions brew along the Lebanese-Israeli border, which has seen demonstrations in the past week against Israel's attacks on Gaza.

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The bombing campaign started after tensions over raids on al-Aqsa Mosque during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan and threatened expulsions of Palestinians in Jerusalem’s Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood prompted Hamas to fire rockets into Israel.

Since then, Israel has killed 227 Palestinians in Gaza, including at least 64 children, wounded 1,620 people and caused widespread destruction in the crowded territory, where two million people live under a crippling Israeli and Egyptian siege. 

Rockets have killed 12 on the Israeli side, including one child. 

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Wednesday that further military escalation on Gaza was possible, as Israel seeks to "degrade Hamas' capabilities" and will.

"There are only two ways that you can deal with them," Netanyahu told a group of foreign diplomats.

"You can either conquer them, and that's always an open possibility, or you can deter them, and we are engaged right now in forceful deterrence. But I have to say we don't rule out anything."

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