Mortars from Lebanon strike north Israel; IDF responds with fire

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Hezbollah claims responsibiliy; number of IDF troops being treated at Sieff Hospital in Safed; mortar strikes Ghajar house directly.

Israel’s north under fire: An anti-tank missile struck an Israel Defense Forces vehicle in the Har Dov area near the Lebanon border on Wednesday morning, as mortar shells were fired at nearby areas.

A number of IDF troops were being treated at the Sieff Hospital in Safed.

One of the mortars struck a home in Ghajar, a village which straddles the border, setting the structure alight. The mortar fire continued into the afternoon, aimed at the Hermon region. Hezbollah claimed responsibility for all of the attacks.

The IDF responded to the attacks with fire. The army warned that its response would only escalate if the attacks did. Lebanese media quoted security officials as saying that Israel has fired at least 25 artillery shells into Lebanon. The officials said the shelling targeted the border villages of Majidiyeh, Abbasiyeh and Kfar Chouba near the Shebaa Farms area, according to Lebanese media.

The attacks took place as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was in the southern city of Sderot, laying the cornerstone for a new neighborhood. “At these moments, the IDF is responding to the events in the north. Look what happened here. Not far from the city of Sderot, in Gaza, Hamas was hit by the strongest blow it ever received last summer… Security comes before all else. Security is the foundation for everything.”

Netanyahu cut short his visit to Sderot and was headed to the Defense Ministry headquarters in Tel Aviv for consultations. Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon convened a security briefing in the wake of the attacks.

Residents in the nearby city of Metuala and the surrounding kibbutzim were instructed to remain indoors. The airports in Rosh Pina and Haifa suspended operations amid the ongoing fire.

The incident occured shortly after it emerged that IDF troops were digging in the same area search for possible Hezbollah tunnels. There was no apparent connection between the two incidents.

Hours earlier, the IDF launched a strike on Syrian Army artillery posts in retaliation for the four rockets fired Tuesday at Israeli territory, two of which exploded in the Golan Heights. Ya’alon said that areas targeted by the IDF in Syria were under control of President Bashar Assad’s regime.

Israeli artillery scored direct hits on Syrian targets in the Quneitra province, according to a statement released by the Israel Defense Forces’ spokesperson: “The IDF holds the Syrian government accountable for all attacks emanating from its land, and will operate by any means necessary to defend Israeli civilians. Such blatant breaches of Israeli sovereignty will not be tolerated,” the army statement read.

A rocket alert siren sounded in the Golan Heights before the Israeli strike, though the IDF said no rockets landed in Israeli-controlled territory.

Groups in the Syrian opposition said Wednesday morning that the overnight Israeli strikes targeted two bases belonging to the Syrian military in the Quneitra region, and one near the Damascus international airport.

www.haaretz.com


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