The militant Hezbollah group has said it fired a barrage of rockets near Israeli positions close to the Lebanese border in retaliation for Israeli air strikes on southern Lebanon a day earlier.
In a statement, Hezbollah said it hit “open fields” near Israeli positions in the disputed Shebaa farms area, with “dozens” of rockets. No casualties were reported.
Israel’s army said it is firing back after at least 10 rockets were fired from Lebanon into Israeli territory, most of them intercepted by the defence system known as the Iron Dome.
The rest of the rockets landed in open areas.
Manar TV of Hezbollah said Israeli warplanes are flying at low altitude over south-east Lebanon.
The attacks mark an escalation in the tensions between Israel’s new government and Iran-backed Hezbollah.
The UN peacekeeping force deployed along the border said it has detected rocket launches from Lebanon, and return artillery fire by Israel.
“This is a very serious situation and we urge all parties to cease fire,” the force known as Unifil said.
Sirens blared across the Golan Heights and Upper Galilee near the Lebanon border on Friday morning.
Shebaa Farms is an 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 and Syria say Shebaa Farms belong to Lebanon while the United Nations says the area is part of Syria and that Damascus and Israel should negotiate its fate.
Israel said most of the rockets from Lebanon were intercepted by the defense system known as the Iron Dome. The rest landed in open areas.
Israel’s new eight-party governing coalition is trying to keep peace under a fragile ceasefire that ended an 11-day war with Hamas’s militant rulers in Gaza in May.
Israel has long considered Hezbollah its most serious and immediate military threat.
It estimates the group possesses over 130,000 rockets and missiles capable of striking anywhere in Israel. In recent years, it also has expressed concerns that the group is trying to import or develop an arsenal of precision-guided missiles.