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Hamas armed wing says it fired 16 rockets at Israel from southern Lebanon

The armed wing of the Palestinian group Hamas has said that it fired a barrage of rockets at Israel from southern Lebanon in response to Israeli strikes on Gaza.

In a statement on Telegram on Monday, the Lebanon branch of Hamas’s Qassam Brigades said that it had launched 16 rockets targeting the northern Israeli city of Nahariya and the southern outskirts of the city of Haifa.

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Israel said that it had identified about 30 launches from Lebanon over an hour. “The IDF is responding with artillery fire toward the origin of the launches,” the Israeli Defense Forces posted on X, formerly known as Twitter.

Qassam Brigades said that the rockets were in retaliation for “massacres and its aggression against our people in Gaza”, where Palestinian authorities say that relentless Israeli air strikes have killed more than 10,000 people since fighting began on October 7 after a Hamas attack on southern Israel that Israeli authorities say killed more than 1,400 people.

While Gaza has been at the centre of the attacks so far, tensions have remained high on Israel’s border with Lebanon, where several armed groups, including the powerful Iran-backed Hezbollah, have exchanged limited fire with Israeli forces for nearly a month.

Such cross-border exchanges have killed at least 81 people in Lebanon, including 59 Hezbollah fighters, and six soldiers and two civilians on the Israeli side, according to a tally from the AFP news agency.

The Qassam Brigades did not give further details in its statement, but firing rockets towards Haifa is the furthest targeting from Lebanon since clashes began along the border.

Reporting from Beirut, Al Jazeera correspondent Zeina Khodr said that an Israeli strike on a vehicle on Sunday had killed three children and their grandmother. Hezbollah said it responded by firing rockets at the northern Israeli town of Kiryat Shmona, killing an Israeli civilian.

“On Friday the [Hezbollah] secretary-general Hassan Nasrallah promised that any civilian killed in Lebanon will be responded [to] with an attack in Israel killing a civilian. So he established, if you like, that equation,” said Khodr.

Analysts have expressed concern that Israel’s war on Gaza could trigger a wider regional escalation, with Hezbollah and other armed groups supported by Iran joining the fight against Israel as humanitarian conditions in Gaza reach their breaking point.

So far, both sides have managed to avoid the kind of steps that could trigger a larger confrontation, opting instead for a steady campaign of tit-for-tat shelling and missile strikes.

“Both sides really understand the consequences of expanding the conflict in southern Lebanon,” said Khodr.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies

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