Lebanon launches rockets at Israel – huge escalation erupts in Middle East crisis

WORLD WAR 3 fears have been ignited after missiles launched from southern Lebanon were fired towards Israel, prompting concerns about a significant escalation of hostilities.

By Ciaran McGrath

The rockets were fired from near Seddiqine, a village in the region of Lebanon’s southern coastal city of Tyre, security sources have confirmed. Sirens warning of incoming had sounded in ‘s lower Galilee region, east of . Residents of the town of Krayot, near Haifa, reported hearing three explosions.

The Israeli military said it is shelling a “number of targets” in response to the latest attack.

Israel’s Iron Dome missile defences intercepted one of the projectiles and “the rest most likely fell in open areas”, the military said.

The rockets caused air raid sirens to blare in the northern Israeli city of Haifa and areas to the east.

Security sources in Lebanon confirmed that four rockets had been launched towards Israel from Seddiqine, a village in the region of Lebanon’s southern coastal city of Tyre.

It was not immediately clear who had fired the rockets, and there were no reports of damage on either side.

One security source said militant group Hezbollah, which has sway in southern Lebanon, had not been involved in the launches, and that the group was trying to determine the source of the rockets.

In an earlier incident, on Monday, six shells were fired from Lebanon towards northern Israel but fell short of the border, drawing retaliatory Israeli artillery fire.

The Israeli military says that some rockets fired from Lebanon, including in an initial incident on Thursday, had landed in the Mediterranean Sea, causing no damage or casualties.

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It was the third incident of rocket fire from Lebanon since hostilities between Israel and Palestinian militants in Gaza flared up on May 10.

On Monday, six shells were fired from Lebanon towards northern Israel but fell short of the border, drawing retaliatory Israeli artillery fire.

Three rockets launched towards Israel on Thursday landed in the Mediterranean Sea, causing no damage or casualties.

Palestinian medical officials said 219 people have been killed in 10 days of aerial bombardments, which have destroyed roads, buildings and other infrastructure, and worsened the already dire humanitarian situation in Gaza.

Israeli authorities put the death toll at 12 in Israel, where repeated rocket attacks have caused panic and sent people rushing into shelters. Regional and US-led diplomatic efforts to secure a ceasefire have intensified but so far failed.

Israel fought a war in 2006 against Hezbollah guerrillas, who have sway in southern Lebanon and access to advanced rockets. The border has been mostly quiet since then.

Small Palestinian factions in Lebanon have fired on Israel sporadically in the past.

US President Joe Biden urged Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday to de-escalate tensions in the Gaza conflict “on the path” to a ceasefire, a White House spokeswoman said.

White House spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters: “The two leaders had a detailed discussion on the state of events in Gaza, Israel’s progress in degrading the capabilities of Hamas and other terrorist elements, and ongoing diplomatic efforts by regional governments and the United States.

“The president conveyed to the prime minister that he expected a significant de-escalation today on the path to a ceasefire.”

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It was the fourth call in past week between the US and Israeli leaders.

Meanwhile, the worrying possibility of Iran being sucked into the conflict took a step closer after Revolutionary Guards chief Hossein Salami said his country supported the Palestinians in their “fight against Israel”.

In his televised speech, Mr Salami said: “Tehran backs the Palestinians’ fight against the Zionist regime.

“The Palestinians have emerged as a missile-equipped nation.”

Iran supports the Hamas militants who rule the Gaza Strip and have fired hundreds of rockets across the border at Israel.

Israel, which Iran does not recognise, said on Wednesday it was not setting a timeframe for an end to hostilities with Gaza’s Islamist militias as it pounded the enclave with air strikes.

Demonstrations against Israel have been taking place in Iran this week in protest at the missile strikes on Palestine.

Published at www.express.co.uk