VIDEO - IDF forces have been exchanging heavy fire Sunday with Palestinians on the Lebanese side of the northern border, near Kibbutz Manara.
Earlier Katyusha rockets were fired toward northern communities, and all Israelis residing near the security fence have been instructed by security forces to enter bomb shelters or secured rooms. Sirens have been activated in the northern communities.
At approximately 3 p.m. Palestinians on the Lebanese side of the northern border opened fire toward the Kibbutz Manara area in northern Israel, and IDF soldiers manning a nearby outpost retaliated. Meanwhile a number of mortars were also fired toward Israel, apparently by a separate terror cell. In response IDF choppers launched a strike on Hizbullah bases in southern Lebanon, and army forces opened fire at the areas from which the mortar and rocket attacks emanated from.
The secretary of Moshav Margaliot in the north told Ynet, “I think Defense Minister Amir Peretz now realizes that the restraint exhibited this morning did not pay off and that only a major strike on the Lebanese infrastructure will prove the severity of the situation to the Beirut government.
“I call on Peretz to let the IDF act with all means available to it,” he said.
Another northern border resident said, “If we want to put an end to the threats, then this is the chance.
“Send us to the bomb shelters, shut down the communities and put an end to Hizbullah and its partners once and for all; they are disrupting daily life for northern Israel residents.
The events began Sunday at dawn, when three Katyusha rockets were fired from Lebanon toward the northern border. Some of the Katyushas hit in the residential section of the air control unit base in Mount Meron, some 10 km (6.25 miles) from the border. One soldier suffered from shock and was evacuated to the Ziv hospital in Safed in light condition, and one of the base’s buildings was lightly damaged.
Shortly after 10 a.m. the air force retaliated with missile strikes in the Lebanese valley. The first targeted the Popular Front general headquarters in Sultan Yaakov five kilometers from the Syrian border. Afterwards, the planes returned and fired at a Popular Front base in the Nueima area south of Beirut.
Later Al-Jazeera reported that one Palestinian was killed and six Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine operatives were hurt in the attacks.
Meanwhile, in the south, at 11:30 Palestinians in northern Gaza fired a Qassam rocket at the western Negev. The rocket fell in an IDF base in the area and did not explode. There were no injuries and no damage was reported.
A senior officer in the northern command said Sunday afternoon that "for the time being, the Israeli response to the firing of Katyusha rockets has ended. With that, situation analyses will continue."
'Script known in advance'
The senior officer pointed out that the Katyusha rockets were fired in all probability at the Air Force base in Har Miron. He said that the targets attacked by the Air Force were meant to send a clear message to the Lebanese government that Israel would respond significantly to every incident. The targets selected were deep within Lebanese territory, the officer said, the west and east of the country.
Fire in north (Video: Reuters)
The IDF confirmed that the Air Force attacked two targets in the Bekaa Valley in Lebanon following the Katyusha rocket attacks. The IDF said that the targets were "two command posts of a terror organization in Lebanon."
"The IDF holds the Lebanese government responsible for every hostile terrorist activity taking place from Lebanese territory, and aimed at the territory of the State of Israel," the IDF said.
In Lebanon, the anti-Syrian block known as the March 14 Forces announced that it will hold an urgent meeting Sunday evening in light of recent developments.
The heads of the political bloc, who rules the Lebanese government, have demanded to disarm the various militias, in the context of "the national dialogue."
The current situation is "a script known in advance – starting from the response of Katyusha rockets which came after the assassination of the Islamic Jihad member, and Israel's response this morning," the organization said.
Hagai Einav, Roee Nahmias contributed to the report