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Israel strikes Lebanon after mortar launched

JERUSALEM (AFP) – The Israeli army said yesterday it was conducting strikes on southern Lebanon after a mortar launched from its northern neighbour exploded in the border area between the two foes.

The latest military action comes three months after the two countries saw their worst cross-border fire in years.

It also comes amid rising tension after Israel carried out its biggest military operation in years in the occupied West Bank targeting the Jenin refugee camp.

“A launch was carried out from Lebanese territory which exploded adjacent to the border in Israeli territory,” an Israeli army statement said.

An army spokesman said the projectile was a mortar, after an army statement earlier reported the explosion had hit near the border town of Ghajar.

“In response, the Israeli military is currently striking the area from which the launch was carried out in Lebanese territory,” an army spokesman told AFP.

Lebanon’s official National News Agency said Israel had fired “more than 15 artillery shells” which hit around the communities of Kfar Chouba and Halta.

The two countries are still technically at war, and peacekeepers from the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) patrol the border between them.

Earlier on Thursday, Lebanon’s Hezbollah movement denounced Israel for building a concrete wall around Ghajar, a small town that straddles their common border.

The group called on the Lebanese state to take action to “prevent the consolidation of this occupation” by Israel of Ghajar, home to around 3,000 people.

Hezbollah denounced Israel for the erection of “a barbed wire fence and the construction of a concrete wall around the entire locality”.

Av Israeli army self propelled artillery vehicle sits on the outskirts of Kiryat Shmona near Israel’s border with Lebanon. PHOTO: AFP