Hezbollah announced on Wednesday that it had launched “a salvo of rockets at Kiryat Shmona” in northern Israel “in retaliation for the night raid” that killed seven rescue workers at an Islamic emergency and rescue center in Hebbariyeh in southern Lebanon, believed to belong to Jamaa Islamiya.

The Jamaa Islamiya press office was quick to react, issuing a statement denying “any link or relationship with the Hebbariyeh Emergency and Rescue Center as reported by the national news agency.” The Islamic group then urged the parties concerned “to clarify” the matter.

The Israeli media then reported that nearly 30 rockets were fired from South Lebanon at Kiryat Shmona and its environs, killing one person and wounding another.

At least 17 people were reportedly in the center at the time of the strike. The building was completely destroyed as a result of the intensive raid, burying its occupants under the rubble.

The emergency services of the Islamic Relief Center said in a statement that a “number” of people had been killed and called the attack a “heinous crime”.

Media reports said that at least 7 people were killed in the Israeli raid on an ambulance center in Hebbariyeh, indicating that the search is continuing for missing people under the rubble.

Israeli army spokesman Avichay Adraee announced that Israeli warplanes raided last night a military building in southern Lebanon, claiming that “a top leader of the Jamaa Islamiya, who was involved in carrying out attacks inside Israeli territory in the past, was eliminated and several gunmen were killed with him.”

The overnight attack came hours after Israel had expanded its attacks deeper into Lebanese territory, with raids on Baalbeck and, for the first time, on Hermel in the Bekaa in which two people were killed and one wounded.

The Jamaa Islamiya, an organization closely linked to Palestinian group Hamas, is among several militant groups in Lebanon that operate health centers and emergency response operations.

At least 331 people have been killed in cross-border hostilities since Hezbollah opened its so-called support front for Gaza on October 8, most of them Hezbollah fighters, including at least 57 civilians, according to an AFP count.

At least 10 Israeli soldiers and seven civilians have been killed in northern Israel, according to the Israeli military.

The hostilities raised fears of all-out conflict between Israel and Hezbollah, which fought a devastating war in 2006.

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