Israel fires at south Lebanon after cross-border rocket launches

TEL AVIV/BEIRUT (Reuters) -Israel fired artillery at targets in Lebanon after four rockets were launched towards Israel from Lebanese territory on Wednesday, the Israeli military said.

A security source in Lebanon said Hezbollah, the Iranian-backed Lebanese group that has fought with Israel in the past, was not involved.

Wednesday's incident was the third case of rocket fire from Lebanon since hostilities between Israel and Palestinian militants in Gaza flared up on May 10.

Israel's missile defences intercepted one projectile, another landed in open ground and two fell in the Mediterranean, the military said. The rockets caused air raid sirens to blare near the northern Israeli city of Haifa and areas to the east.

Lebanon's army found four empty rocket launchers in the area of Seddiqine, a village in the region of the southern Lebanese coastal city of Tyre, and one ready to fire, which was dismantled, it said on Twitter.

The Lebanese army also said Israeli artillery had targeted the area, without causing damage or injuries.

There were no reports of damage on either side.

The security source said Hezbollah, whose stronghold is in south Lebanon, had not been involved in the launches and that the group was trying to determine the source of the rockets.

Israeli military affairs correspondents said the rockets were probably fired by a Palestinian faction in solidarity with those in Gaza. Small Palestinian factions in Lebanon have fired on Israel sporadically in the past.

On Monday, six shells were launched from Lebanon towards northern Israel but fell short of the border, drawing retaliatory Israeli artillery fire. On Thursday, three rockets fired from Lebanon fell in the Mediterranean Sea.

Israel fought a war in 2006 against Hezbollah guerrillas who have access to advanced rockets. The border has been mostly quiet since then.

(Reporting by Rami Ayyub in Tel Aviv and Laila Bassam and Maha El Dahan in Beirut; Editing by Edmund Blair, Toby Chopra and Grant McCool)