Escalation has sparked fears of a broader conflict after days of violence over Jerusalem’s most sensitive holy site.
Israel unleashed rare airstrikes on Lebanon and bombarded the Gaza Strip on Friday, an escalation that sparked fears of a broader conflict after days of violence over Jerusalem’s most sensitive holy site.
Later in the day, there were signs that both sides were trying to keep the hostilities in check. Fighting on Israel's northern and southern borders subsided after dawn, and midday prayers at the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem passed peacefully.
But a Palestinian shooting attack in the Israeli-occupied West Bank killed two Israeli sisters just hours later – a bleak reminder of the combustible situation.
The early morning Israeli strikes followed an unusually large rocket barrage fired at Israel from southern Lebanon – some of the heaviest and most serious cross-border violence since Israel’s 2006 war with Lebanon’s Hezbollah militants.
Lebanon strikes Israel
There were no reports of serious casualties, but several residents of the southern Lebanese town of Qalili, including Syrian refugees, said they were lightly wounded.
“I immediately gathered my wife and children and got them out of the house,” said Qalili resident Bilal Suleiman, who was jolted awake by the bombing.
The latest spate of violence erupted after Israeli police raided the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem earlier in the week, sparking unrest and outrage across the Arab world.
In the Gaza Strip, Israel's military pounded what it said were weapons production sites and underground tunnels belonging to Hamas, the militant group ruling the Palestinian enclave. A children’s hospital in Gaza City was among sites sustaining damage, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry.
After the retaliatory strikes, Israelis living along the southern border returned home from bomb shelters. Most missiles that managed to cross into Israeli territory hit open areas, but one landed in the town of Sderot, sending shrapnel slicing into a house.
There were no reports of casualties on either side of the southern border.