After 19 rockets were fired from Lebanon by Israel, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett quickly convened a meeting to discuss the matter with top defense officials.
These attacks represent a significant escalation in tensions between Israel's new government, Iran-backed Hezbollah and Israel. They also come amid increasing tensions between Israel & Iran that have been playing out in the Persian Gulf.
Israel's defense minister said Thursday that Iran is ready to strike. This threat was made after a deadly drone strike at an oil tanker at sea, which his country had blamed on Tehran.
A U.N. peacekeeping force stationed along the Lebanese/Israeli border reported that it detected rocket launches from Lebanon on Friday and returned artillery fire from Israel.
UNIFIL stated that "this is a very serious matter and we urge all sides to cease firing." General Stefano Del Col, Force Commander, stated that the force was working with the Lebanese army in order to improve security in the region and urged the parties to stop firing immediately.
Sirens were heard across the Golan Heights, Upper Galilee and near the Lebanon border on Friday morning. Hezbollah stated in a statement that the missile hit "open fields" close to Israeli positions in the Shebaa farm area. It also fired "dozens" of rockets. There were no casualties.
According to the group, it launched 10 rockets in retaliation against Israeli airstrikes on the previous day. These strikes were in retaliation for rocket fire from South Lebanon, which was not claimed any group.
Shebaa Farms can be described as an enclave at the border of Israel, Lebanon, and Syria. Israel claims it is part the Golan Heights that it captured in 1967 from Syria. Syria and Lebanon claim Shebaa Farms are part of Lebanon. However, the United Nations claims that the area is Syrian and that Damascus should negotiate its fate.
This escalation occurs at a delicate time in Lebanon. The country is currently in multiple crises, including a catastrophic economic meltdown and political deadlock.
Hezbollah's response of firing on open fields in a disputed region rather than Israel itself seemed to be a pre-planned response.
According to the Israeli army's Lt. Col. Amnon Shafler, 19 rockets were fired into Israel by three Lebanese rockets. The defense system, known as the Iron Dome, intercepted ten of the 16 remaining rockets.
This is also a sensitive political time in Israel. Israel's eight-party coalition of governing parties is working to maintain peace in the fragile cease-fire, which ended the 11-day war in Gaza with Hamas' militant rulers.
Israel has always considered Hezbollah to be its greatest and most immediate military threat. The group is estimated to have over 130,000 missiles and rockets that can strike anywhere in Israel. It has also expressed concern that the group may be trying to import or create an arsenal of precision-guided rockets in recent years.
Tensions flared between Hezbollah and locals after the attack. Two vehicles, including a mobile rocket-launcher, were seen in videos posted to social media following the rocket attack. They were stopped by villagers in Shwaya, Hasbaya region, near the border with Golan Heights.
Some angry Druze villagers could be heard saying, "Hezbollah firing rockets between homes so that Israel strikes us back."
Later, Hezbollah issued a statement stating that rockets were fired from remote locations and that fighters were stopped at Shwaya while they were returning.
The statement stated that the Islamic Resistance was and will continue to be concerned about the safety and protection of its people, as well as avoiding any harm through its acts and resistance.
Hezbollah has been fighting alongside President Bashar al-Assad in Syria's civil war for years. Friday's operation was named after two of its fighters who were shot by Israeli fire.
Ali Mohsen was shot dead in an Israeli airstrike in July 2013. It occurred near Damascus, the capital of Syria. Israeli troops killed Mohammed Tahhan in May as he protested for Gaza's support during the Israel-Hamas conflict.