KFAR CHOUBA, Lebanon – Four Katyusha rockets hit the Israeli town of Kiryat Shemona near the border with Lebanon early Wednesday, the Israeli military said, as fighting with Lebanese guerrillas continued to heat up. There were no early reports of injuries.
On Tuesday, Lebanese guerrillas fired missiles and machine guns at Israeli troops along the southern border despite assurances that Lebanon does not want to open a new front in the Mideast conflict.
Israeli aircraft struck back with three raids, firing at least five missiles at suspected guerrilla hide-outs. Israeli artillery gunners also shelled the Lebanese village of Kfar Chouba, damaging a house, villagers said. There was no immediate word on casualties.
The violence came despite assurances on Monday by Syria, the power broker in Lebanon, that the Lebanese government has "no intention whatseover to open a new front" while Israeli troops were fighting against Palestinians in the West Bank.
Hezbollah guerrillas said they opened fire at six Israeli outposts in the disputed Chebaa Farms area. Witnesses said the guerrillas used mortars and at least 10 Katyusha rockets. It was not immediately known if any rockets were fired into northern Israel.
The Israeli army said one point was hit in the Upper Galilee region, near the northern border town of Kiryat Shemona.
Lebanon backs Hezbollah's attacks, but only in that border region. Lebanon claims Chebaa Farms as its territory, while the United Nations says it belongs to Syria and should be discussed between Israel and Syria.
Residents along the Lebanese border said street lights were switched off in the adjacent Israeli border community of Metulla, apparently as a precaution against Hezbollah attacks.
Israeli warplanes and helicopters also flew over Lebanon's largest Palestinian refugee camp of Ein el-Hilweh in the city of Sidon on the Mediterranean coast. The Lebanese army and Palestinians fired at the aircraft, but no casualties or attacks were reported.
On Monday night, rockets were fired from southern Lebanon toward Kiryat Shemona. Security sources in Israel said three Katyusha rockets landed in open fields in the Upper Galilee, but there were no casualties.
There was no word on who fired the rockets, the latest in several attacks that no one has claimed responsibility for in recent days.
Lebanese authorities, seeking to stave off Israeli retaliation and fend off international criticism, have arrested nine Palestinians in the earlier attacks.
Monday, five of them were referred to a military trial, together with two Syrian nationals, on charges of illegal possession of weapons and of destabilizing security
The leading Beirut newspaper An-Nahar said they belonged to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, a radical Palestinian faction based in Damascus.
In the disputed Chebaa Farms area along the Israeli-occupied Syrian Golan, the fighting, however, is led by Hezbollah, which has attacked Israeli army positions in the area every afternoon for almost a week.
The front had been largely dormant since Israel's withdrawal from southern Lebanon in 2000 after an 18-year occupation.