Hizbollah fires at Israeli posts, draws air raids
Lebanon's Hizbollah guerrillas attacked Israeli posts in a disputed border area on Monday, drawing air raids, in retaliation for Israel's killing of Hamas founder Sheikh Ahmed Yassin in Gaza.
Witnesses said they saw smoke rising from one Israeli position at Roueissat al-Aalam after the Syrian and Iranian-backed group launched mortar and rocket attacks.
Israeli aircraft and tanks fired back at Hizbollah targets on the outskirts of Lebanese border towns, an Israeli army spokesman said. There were no reports of casualties.
The Israeli spokesman issued a statement saying Israel had no interest in escalating violence, but would strike against anyone who "uses or supports terrorism" against Israeli civilians.
Hizbollah's al-Manar TV said Sheikh Ahmed Yassin Brigades, named after the assassinated Hamas leader, carried out the attacks on six Israeli positions.
"The martyr Sheikh Ahmed Yassin's Brigades struck all of the Zionist enemy's positions in the Shebaa Farms using direct weapons and rockets scoring direct hits," it said.
"What happened today is the natural consequence of the crimes of the Zionist enemy against the Palestinian people, especially its assassination today of Sheikh Ahmed Yassin," Hizbollah spokesman Sheikh Hassan Izzedine told Reuters.
"What does the Zionist entity expect but more anger, condemnation, enmity and support for the Palestinian people?"
The border has been quiet in recent weeks but there have been sporadic flareups since Israeli forces withdrew from southern Lebanon in 2000 after a 22-year occupation.
Hizbollah says Shebaa Farms is Israeli-held Lebanese territory. The United Nations regards the area as occupied Syrian land.
Hizbollah leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah had earlier said that Israel would pay a heavy price for Yassin's killing.
Yassin's Hamas group has killed hundreds of Israelis in suicide bombings since the start of a Palestinian uprising more than three years ago.
Israeli warplanes had swooped over southern Lebanon and the eastern Bekaa Valley earlier in the day.