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Hezbollah fires heavy rockets into northern Israel after deadliest day of Israeli strikes on Lebanon

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BEIRUT (AP) — Lebanese militant group Hezbollah fired rockets with heavy warheads at towns in northern Israel, saying it used the weapons against civilian targets for the first time Thursday in retaliation for Israeli airstrikes the previous night who killed nine people, including the group. there were several paramedics.

No Israelis were injured in the rocket attack, local media reported. The Israeli military did not immediately comment on the rocket attack.

Since the outbreak of Israel-Hamas War In Gaza on October 7, there are growing fears that near-daily clashes along the Israel-Lebanon border could escalate into a full-scale war. Airstrikes and rocket fire killed 16 Lebanese and one Israeli on Wednesday, making it the deadliest day of the current conflict.

Israel’s chief military spokesman, Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari, said Israel had killed 30 Hezbollah militants over the past week and destroyed dozens of Hezbollah military sites in an effort to repel the Iranian-backed group far from the border.

The recent increase in violence has sparked concern in Washington and the United Nations.

“Restoring calm along this border remains a top priority for President Biden and for the administration,” White House national security spokesman John Kirby told reporters, saying the U.S. United were closely monitoring developments. I do not support a war in Lebanon.

Kirby said the United States was working to end the fighting through diplomatic efforts. This must be a top priority for Israel and Lebanon, he said, and would allow displaced civilians to return home. Tens of thousands of people on both sides have fled the fighting.

Around sunset on Thursday, a barrage of Katyusha and Burkan rockets was fired toward the Israeli village of Goren and Shlomi, according to a Hezbollah statement. Hezbollah’s Al-Manar television said the group had not previously fired Burkan rockets at civilian targets, but was now responding to the recent wave of Israeli airstrikes.

Lebanese state media reported that 10 paramedics were among those killed on Wednesday. The Israeli military said it struck targets of Hezbollah and an allied Sunni Muslim group.

Hezbollah has frequently used Russian-made Kornet man-portable anti-tank missiles in recent months. More rarely, it has launched Burkan rockets which, according to the group’s leader Hassan Nasrallah, can carry a warhead weighing between 300 kilograms (660 pounds) and 500 kilograms (1,100 pounds).

Hezbollah says its attacks are aimed at keeping some Israeli divisions occupied and away from Gaza, and Nasrallah says border attacks will only stop when Israel ends its Gaza offensive.

General CQ Brown, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters on Thursday that he had discussed with his Israeli counterparts that Israel did not need “to have a northern front with which it must manage as it deals with Gaza.” And he said he also spoke with Lebanon’s defense chief, aiming to do what the United States can do to “help lower the temperature.”

The U.N. peacekeeping force in southern Lebanon, known as UNIFIL, said Thursday it was imperative that “this escalation stops immediately.”

“We urge all parties to lay down their arms and begin the process leading to a lasting political and diplomatic solution,” UNIFIL said. He added that the peacekeeping force remains ready to support this process in any way possible.

The fighting killed nine civilians and 11 soldiers in Israel. More than 240 Hezbollah fighters and around fifty civilians have died in Lebanon.

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Associated Press writer Seung Min Kim in Washington and Melanie Lidman in Tel Aviv, Israel, contributed to this report.

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