Israel’s military has said it is “striking in Lebanon”, hours after it launched air raids on Gaza, following a spate of rocket launches as tensions soar after Israeli forces stormed the Al-Aqsa Mosque in occupied East Jerusalem this week.

Israel’s army announced in a short statement at 4:07am (01:07 GMT) on Friday that it “is currently striking in Lebanon”. A Lebanese TV station reported explosions near a refugee camp in the southern port city of Tyre.

Hours earlier, there were explosions in Gaza after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu promised in a video statement that his country’s enemies would “pay a price for any aggression”.

There were no immediate reports of casualties or injuries in Lebanon or Gaza.

The latest raids come amid rising tensions over the storming of the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem by Israeli troops, who fired stun grenades, attacked Palestinian worshippers and expelled them from the holy site as they gathered for Ramadan prayers.

The Muslim holy month this year coincides with Passover, a key holiday in the Jewish calendar, as well the Christian festival of Easter.

The attacks on Gaza, a blockaded Palestinian enclave on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea, and Lebanon came after Israel said it was targeted by rockets.

The Israeli military said 34 rockets had been fired from Lebanon on Thursday, with 25 intercepted and at least four landing inside the country. They were the first rockets fired from Lebanon towards Israel in a year and the biggest launch since 2006. The Israeli military said its attack was focused on Hamas.

“The [Israeli military] will not allow the Hamas terrorist organisation to operate from within Lebanon and holds the state of Lebanon responsible for every directed fire emanating from its territory,” it said in a statement.

‘Flagrant aggression’

In Gaza, the Israeli military said it was also targeting Hamas, striking two tunnels and two alleged weapons facilities. The AFP news agency said a Palestinian security source indicated that Hamas training sites were hit in the attack.

Rockets from Gaza were fired in response. On Twitter, the Israeli army also said that air raid sirens went off in southern Israel.

Netanyahu was reportedly in a Security Cabinet meeting as the Gaza attack unfolded. Among the topics under discussion was the recent rocket fire.

Following the meeting, Netanyahu issued a brief statement. “Israel’s response, tonight and beyond, will extract a heavy price from our enemies,” it read. Israel has blamed the Palestinian group Hamas for the rocket fire.

Hamas, meanwhile, responded to the air attacks with a statement saying: “We hold the Zionist occupation fully responsible for the grave escalation and the flagrant aggression against the Gaza Strip and for the consequences that will bring onto the region.”


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