At least two rockets were fired today from southern Lebanon into Israel, Lebanon’s news agency and security sources said, adding that it was unclear who had fired them. Southern Lebanon is a stronghold of Hezbollah, a Shi’ite Muslim group that battled Israel seven years ago and is engaged in Syria’s civil war in support of President Bashar al-Assad. Palestinian factions are also in the same area. The news agency NNA, citing its correspondent in Tyre, said the rockets were fired towards occupied territories at 6.30 am (1000 IST) from the Hasbaya area in Lebanon. Israel responded with military shells, security sources said. In December, rockets launched from south Lebanon struck northern Israel, provoking a response across a border that had been largely quiet since a war in 2006.
Israel pressed on for a fourth day with its Gaza offensive today, striking the Hamas-dominated enclave from air and sea, as Palestinian militants kept up rocket attacks deep into the Jewish state. At least 79 Palestinians, most of them civilians, have been killed in the offensive, which Israel says it launched to end persistent rocket attacks on its civilian population, some of which have reached Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and other cities. The salvoes into Israel have caused no fatalities or serious injuries, due in part to interception by Israel’s partly-U.S. funded Iron Dome aerial defence system. One rocket today hit a petrol station in Israel’s port city of Ashdod, causing a huge blaze and at least three people were seriously wounded, an ambulance spokesman said. Israeli leaders have appeared to hint at a possible invasion by ground forces and some 20,000 army reservists have been mobilised, giving them the means, if they choose, to mount a land offensive. Lebanese security sources said two rockets were fired into northern Israel today but they did not know who had fired them. Israel responded with artillery fire at the source of the rockets. Israel’s chief military spokesman, Brigadier-General Motti Almoz, said one rocket fell near Kibbutz Kfar Yuval and that there were no casualties or damage. Gaza medical officials said four people were killed in Israeli pre-dawn attacks. The Israeli military said fresh naval and air strikes were launched early, but a spokeswoman gave no further details. An air strike on a house in Gaza City killed a man described by officials as a doctor and pharmacist. Medics and residents said an Israeli aircraft bombed a three-storey house in the southern town of Rafah, killing three people. The Palestinians said Israeli tanks fired shells east of Rafah, naval forces sent shells into a security compound in Gaza City and aircraft bombed positions near the borders with Egypt and Israel. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a televised statement yesterday: So far the battle is progressing as planned, but we can expect further stages in future. Up to now, we have hit Hamas and the terror organisations hard and as the battle continues we will increase strikes at them. Netanyahu discussed options with his security cabinet as new air strikes were launched and officials hinted at a ground offensive. There was no word on when or if this might happen. The last time they undertook such an offensive was in early 2009. Ground troops did not cross into the Strip, one of the world’s most densely populated territories, during the last major exchange of rockets and missiles in October 2012.
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