Hezbollah responded Friday to recent Israeli shelling and airstrikes in southern Lebanon by firing rockets into Israel. The incident marks the first time the Shia group fired into Israel since the 2006 war.
Israel said 19 rockets were launched from Lebanon and that it fired back with artillery after the barrage. The back and forth is the most significant escalation between Israel and Hezbollah in years, but no casualties were reported on either side.
Israel’s initial shelling of Lebanon took place late Wednesday after three rockets were fired out of Lebanon, which no group took credit for. Israel responded to the three rockets by firing 92 artillery shells into Lebanon and launching airstrikes.
The Israeli airstrikes were the first Israel admitted to in Lebanon since 2014, although Israeli warplanes frequently enter Lebanese airspace to bomb Syria. In July, Israel bombed Syria from Lebanese airspace, and in the process, the warplanes also struck several villages in northern Lebanon.
The escalation comes as Lebanon is mired in an economic crisis. Wednesday marked the first anniversary of the Beirut port explosion that killed over 200 people and exacerbated the country’s woes.
In warning Hezbollah against further rocket attacks, Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz said Israel could make Lebanon’s crisis even worse. “We do not intend to let Hezbollah toy with us and Hezbollah knows this. Lebanon’s situation is shaky. We can make it even shakier,” he said.