JERUSALEM, May 4 (JTA) In a sharp escalation of tensions along the Israeli-Lebanese border, Hezbollah militants fired dozens of rockets into a northern Israeli town, injuring 27 people.
Thursday’s attack, which also caused damage and sparked fires, marked the first time Kiryat Shmona has come under fire in nearly a year.
Twenty of the people were treated for shock and then released, according to the Israeli Consulate in New York.
Israel soon retaliated by launching three airstrikes, knocking out power lines in some parts of southern Lebanon.
Hezbollah officials said they fired the rockets to retaliate for “continuing Israeli aggression” against Lebanese villages.
The rocket attack came hours after two Lebanese women were killed by shells fired by Israel and its ally in the region, the South Lebanon Army.
It also came less than a day after 14 Lebanese civilians were reportedly lightly hurt by an Israeli bombing of a village.
Israeli military sources have said Hezbollah is deliberately stepping up its attacks in the wake of Israel’s announcement that it will withdraw troops from the area by July. Some Israeli officials have been calling for immediate implementation of the pullback.
Thursday’s Katyusha rocket attack hit Kiryat Shmona and other northern towns along the border to which the IDF is expected to redeploy.
Reports said the rockets set cars on fire in Kiryat Shmona and sent thousands of Israelis into bomb shelters. It came a week after the Passover holiday, when the north was filled with vacationers.