Rockets fired by militants in Gaza reached deeper into Israel Friday, and a strike from Lebanon hit the northern part of the country, leading Israeli officials to suspect Lebanese fighters may be joining the four-day conflict.
The Lebanese military said three rockets were fired toward Israel around 6 a.m. and the Israelis retaliated by firing about 25 artillery shells on the area. Israeli military spokesman Lt. Col. Peter Lerner confirmed that the Israeli military had responded to the new attack with force.
Lebanese troops and United Nations peacekeepers later began searching the area, and the military said it was trying to find out who was behind the attack.
In Gaza, an Israeli airstrike Friday hit the home of a well-known Islamic Jihad leader. Gaza health officials said strikes overnight killed a total of eight people, raising the death toll to at least 98, including dozens of civilians. A later strike pushed the tally over 100 to go along with some 670 wounded, officials said.
Rocket fire continued in earnest from Gaza toward various locations in southern and central Israel, including towards Israel’s international airport.
In the southern Gaza city of Rafah, residents sifted through the remains of a four-story building that was struck and scattered for cover as another airstrike landed nearby.
The commercial center of Tel Aviv and Ben-Gurion airport also heard warning sirens Friday but these rockets were intercepted and there was no disturbance to Israel’s air traffic. Hamas says it intends to fire rockets at the airport and warned foreign airlines to stop flying to Israel.
Gaza rocket fire also struck a gas station and set it on fire Friday in southern Israel. The explosion in Ashdod sent plumes of smoke high into the air. Israeli health officials said the blast wounded three people, including one in serious condition.
The blast—which left a trail of charred vehicles in its wake—could be the most serious in the four days of fighting that has yet to kill anyone on the Israeli side.
Lerner said Israel has suspected that Lebanese militants may try to join the fray as Israel exchanges fire with Islamic Hamas militants in Gaza. However, he said it was still unclear whether Friday’s attack was “symbolic or something more substantial.”
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