Fire exchanged on Israel-Lebanon border

Tension has spiked on the border between the two countries since Lebanese troops gunned down an Israeli soldier this month

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About 20 shells were fired by the Israeli military into southern Lebanon on Sunday without causing any damage, according to Lebanese security officials.

The attack was in response to rockets fired from Lebanon into an open field west of the Israeli town of Kyriat Shmona, the Israeli military said in a statement.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accused Hezbollah of being involved in firing rockets at Israel and said that the Shiite movement “Hezbollah deploys thousands of rockets and missiles among the civilian population. So it is committing a double war crime under the patronage of the Lebanese government and its army, who do nothing.”

“We know that Iran, which continues to help the Syrian government to commit massacres against its people and arm terrorist organizations abroad, is behind Hezbollah,” the statement from his office charged.

Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon warned the Lebanese government of an even tougher response to further rocket attacks.

“We will not tolerate fire from Lebanon on our territory... We consider the Lebanese government and army responsible for this morning’s fire,” said Yaalon.

“The Israeli army responded by firing a large number of shells at the area from where the rockets were fired. If necessary, it will be even tougher.

“I would never advise anyone to test our patience and our determination to defend the security of the Israeli people,” the minister said in a statement.

The Katyusha-style rockets landed in a field west of the town of Kyriat Shmona, without causing any casualties or damage, Israeli military radio reported.

The Israel-Lebanon border has remained mostly quiet since a month-long war in the summer of 2006 between Israel and Hezbollah guerrillas in Lebanon. There have been sporadic outbursts of violence, most recently earlier this month when a Lebanese army sniper killed an Israeli soldier.

Tension has spiked on the border between the two countries since Lebanese troops gunned down an Israeli soldier driving near the frontier on Dec. 16.

In August, four Israeli soldiers were wounded by an explosion some 400 metres inside Lebanese territory, in a blast claimed by Hezbollah.

(With AFP)

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