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Rockets fired from southern Lebanon into Israel, Israel hits Lebanese target in retaliation   13-08-23 17:43

JERUSALEM/BEIRUT, Aug. 22 (Xinhua) -- Four rockets were launched from southern Lebanon into northernIsraelon Thursday afternoon, the first time since 2011, breaking the short-lived calm in the volatile region.

Hours later, the Israeli air force bombed a Lebanese target near Na'ameh, between Beirut and Sidon, in retaliation.

The four rockets were fired from an area between Hawsh and al- Rashidiyeh Palestinian refugees' camp.

One was intercepted by the Iron Dome anti-missile battery stationed in the northern Israeli city of Haifa a month ago. The rest fell in open territories near the city of Nahariya in northwestern Israel, causing no injuries or damage.

Israeli residents reported hearing sirens and sounds of explosions at around 16:30 local time (1330 GMT). The military also sealed off the airspace of the Haifa airport as a precautionary measure.

The Israeli military said the rockets were likely fired by Sunni Muslim radicals belonging to the Jihad movement instead of the Shiite militant group Hezbollah.

The Abdullah Azzam Brigades, anAl-Qaida-linked group, claimed responsibility for the attack.

Lebanese President Michel Suleiman condemned it, denouncing the attack as a violation of Lebanon's sovereignty and of UN Resolution 1701. He called on security agencies to pursue the perpetrators and bring them to justice.

Following the attack, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said: "Let anyone who hurts us or tries to hurt us know that we will hurt him."

"We deploy varied means and act responsibly. Our policy is clear: protect and thwart," said Netanyahu. "We are working on all fronts -- in the north and the south -- in order to protect the citizens of Israel from those attacks."

Israeli Chief of Staff, Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz, convened the top military brass on Thursday evening to discuss the army's course of action following the rocket attack.

State of alert was recorded on both sides of the border between Lebanon and Israel.

The commander of the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) on Thursday urged Lebanese and Israeli armed forces to exert utmost effort to practice self-control and prevent any escalation of the current situation.

In a statement, UNIFIL's commander General Paulo Serra said escalation did not serve either party, hoping that "this incident would be isolated."

Serra said he was in intensive contacts with both the Lebanese and the Israeli armies and that "the concerned parties stressed their will to cooperate with the UNIFIL to keep the situation under control."

The Lebanese army said in a statement that its troops found wooden launch pads from which the rockets were fired.

Meanwhile, Lebanon's caretaker Prime Minister Najib Miqati said the attack was an "attempt to destabilize the security of southern Lebanon and turn Lebanon into a battle ground for settling disputes."

Last week, Lebanese President Michel Suleiman accused Israel of being responsible for a car bombing in Beirut's suburb Dahieh, in which 14 people were killed.

Two weeks ago, four Israeli soldiers were injured following an explosion near the border during a military operation. One suffered mediocre wounds and three others were slightly injured.

Hezbollah claimed responsibility for the explosion, saying the bomb was activated from afar.

Hassan Nasrallah, the Hezbollah's chief, said the attack was a retaliation for Israeli soldiers' operations on Lebanese turf.

There have been several reports recently by Lebanese media that Israeli soldiers crossed the border and entered the buffer zone between the two countries.

TITLE: Rockets fired from southern Lebanon into Israel, Israel hits Lebanese target in retaliation
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