The Hezbollah terror group on Sunday morning launched mortar shells at Israeli military sites on the Lebanon border, as fighting continued in southern Israel in the wake of a major attack launched by the Palestinian Hamas terror group in the Gaza Strip.
Hezbollah claimed to have fired dozens of rockets and shells at three Israeli positions in the contested Mount Dov region in solidarity with the Hamas attack.
The Lebanese group said in a statement that the attack, using “large numbers of rockets and shells,” was in solidarity with the “Palestinian resistance.” It claimed the Israeli positions were directly hit.
Footage posted to social media showed the moment one of the mortars hit an Israeli military site on the border.
The Israel Defense Forces did not report any injuries, and said it responded with artillery fire toward the area of the launches and a drone strike against “Hezbollah infrastructure” in the area.
According to a military source, the site targeted in the drone strike was a tent the terror group set up in Israeli territory months ago.
Footage shows mortars fired from Lebanon landing in the Mount Dov area pic.twitter.com/qoVK9aEw3X
— Emanuel (Mannie) Fabian (@manniefabian) October 8, 2023
There were no immediate reports of Lebanese casualties.
The IDF later said it fired warning shots toward Hezbollah members who were attempting to rebuild the tent.
Israel also launched a Patriot interceptor missile at a suspicious object approaching the northern border, which turned out to be a false alarm.
“There is no threat to residents,” the IDF said following the scare.
The United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon said it was in contact with both sides “to contain the situation and avoid a more serious escalation.”
“Our peacekeepers remain in their positions and on task. They continue to work, some from shelters for their safety,” UNIFIL said in a statement.
“We urge everyone to exercise restraint and make use of UNIFIL’s liaison and coordination mechanisms to de-escalate to prevent a fast deterioration of the security situation,” it added.
Hezbollah has largely sat out previous rounds of fighting between Israel and Palestinian terror groups, though it allowed local Palestinian factions to operate out of its territory in southern Lebanon.
“The IDF has been taking preparational measures for this type of possibility and will continue to operate in all regions and at any time necessary to ensure the safety of the Israeli civilians,” the military said in a statement.
In a press conference, Hashem Safi al-Din, head of Hezbollah’s Executive Council, threatened that the whole Islamic world would join the Hamas offensive if Israel and the US persist in their “foolishness.”
The Iran-backed Hezbollah erected two tents in the Mount Dov area on the border some months ago, but later took one down and threatened to attack if Israel took steps to forcibly dismantle the other one.
The tent remained in Israeli territory since early June, with Israel failing to have UNIFIL require Lebanon to dismantle it.
Israel and Lebanon largely abide by the UN-recognized Blue Line. The line is marked with blue barrels along the border and in some areas is several meters from the Israeli fence, which is built entirely within Israeli territory.
Tensions have remained high with Hezbollah in recent months, with the deployment of dozens of Hezbollah posts along the Lebanese border, including the tent, and increasing patrols and presence by terror group operatives in the area.
Other recent incidents on the Lebanese border have included camouflaged Hezbollah members walking along the border in violation of a UN resolution, and Hezbollah activists crossing the Blue Line (though not the Israeli border fence) on numerous occasions, including attempts to damage the border fence and army surveillance equipment.
The exchange of fire on the northern border came as Israel was fighting the Hamas terror group on the southern frontier.
The Gaza-based terror group launched an unprecedented assault on Israel on Saturday morning, firing thousands of rockets and sending hundreds of gunmen into Israeli communities by land, sea and air, killing at least 500 people and injuring over 1,500.
The multi-pronged attack, coming a day after Israel marked the 50th anniversary of the surprise invasion on Yom Kippur, caught the Israeli military and security forces completely by surprise.
Hamas gunmen overran at least one military base and gunmen moved through Israeli border communities, killing and capturing residents, apparently with little resistance from Israeli forces, residents said.
Other clips circulating online have purported to show Israeli civilians taken hostage by the terror group. Arabic media claimed 52 Israelis had been captured. Some of those captured appeared to have been killed.
The Hamas-run health ministry in the Gaza Strip said 256 Palestinians were killed and another 1,800 were wounded as of Sunday morning. Most of those were apparently killed in the Gaza Strip as a result of Israel’s retaliatory strikes.
The IDF said it killed hundreds of Palestinian terrorists in Israel and in strikes in the Gaza Strip.
Agencies contributed to this report.