Heavy rocket fire from Lebanon across southern border, Israel vows strong response

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Air raid sirens sounded across cities in northern Israel on Thursday and about 40 rockets had been fired from Lebanon in the afternoon, Israel’s military said.

State broadcaster Kan aired footage of numerous mid-air interceptions of rockets above Israeli towns, including in Safed, some 12 kilometers (7.5 miles) from the border.

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Two people were wounded by shrapnel, Israel’s national ambulance service said, and a number of wildfires were set off by rockets that landed in open areas.

“Numerous launches were successfully intercepted,” the military said.

It added that five “suspicious aerial targets,” an apparent reference to drones, were also identified, three of which were intercepted.

Iran-backed Hezbollah opened a second front against Israel shortly after Hamas’ Oct. 7 assault on southern Israel that triggered the war in Gaza. The Israel-Lebanon border has seen increasing attacks in both directions since.

The Israeli government vowed to respond strongly to all Hezbollah attacks.

“Israel will respond with force to all aggressions by Hezbollah,” government spokesman David Mencer said during a press briefing on Thursday.

“Whether through diplomatic efforts or otherwise, Israel will restore security on our northern border,” he added.

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The violence escalated this week with Hezbollah firing even more rockets as part of a retaliation for an Israeli strike that killed one of its senior field commanders.

Washington on Thursday expressed concern that fighting along the Israel-Lebanon border could spiral into a full-out war and called for new security arrangements.

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