Air-raid sirens sounded in northern Israel and local residents were told to go to bomb shelters, but authorities later said reports of an “airspace intrusion” from Lebanon were a false alarm.
(Bloomberg) — Air-raid sirens sounded in northern Israel and local residents were told to go to bomb shelters, but authorities later said reports of an “airspace intrusion” from Lebanon were a false alarm.
Israelis have been on high alert for any sign the Iran-backed Hezbollah group in Lebanon to the north might step up attacks after Hamas’ deadly attacks from Gaza in the south over the weekend.
About 90 minutes after the first report of an intrusion in the north, the Israel Defense Force said, “a suspected infiltration has been ruled out.” It blamed “human error” for a separate alert telling residents across the country to remain in shelters.
Hezbollah’s television station also was quick to deny any breach of Israeli airspace.
Israel is preparing for what’s widely expected to be a massive assault against Gaza and the opening of another front in the north would represent a substantial escalation by Israel’s enemies and likely a challenge for its military.
Unconfirmed reports that paragliders had been sighted in the area added to the alarm. Hamas, which the US and EU have designated a terrorist group, used the light aircraft at the start of its deadly attack on Saturday.
Earlier Wednesday, Hezbollah forces exchanged fire with Israeli troops on the border with Lebanon.
Hezbollah, one of the Middle East’s most powerful militias, said it hit an Israeli army post with guided missiles in response to the killing of some of its fighters earlier this week. In a statement broadcast on the group’s Al-Manar television, it claimed the attack injured Israeli soldiers.
Later, Israel Defense Forces said they hit an observation post for Hezbollah in southern Lebanon with artillery fire. It said anti-tank missiles were fired at one of its northern military posts close to the Lebanese border.
The Israeli post was adjacent to the community of Arab Al-Aramshe on the so-called Blue Line, the boundary set by United Nations peacekeepers stationed there.
It’s the latest of several incidents this week in northern Israel. On Monday, Israel shelled border towns after an attack by a Palestinian group.
Hezbollah has expressed solidarity with Hamas. It is thought to have tens of thousands of missiles and analysts have said it may opt to attack Israel more forcefully, especially if Israeli troops move into Gaza.
–With assistance from Dana Khraiche.
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