Hizbullah started to use a new kind of rocket, landing its deepest hit into northern Israel in 17 days of fighting. Israeli authorities reported that five rockets hit fields outside the town of Afula, causing no casualties.
The area around Afula, 30 miles south of the Israeli-Lebanese border area, has been struck before, but Israeli security officials said Friday's attacks were the southernmost so far.
Also Friday, the United Nations announced it had decided to remove 50 unarmed observers from posts along the Israeli-Lebanese border and relocate them with lightly armed U.N. peacekeepers. The decision came three days after an Israeli airstrike destroyed one of the posts, killing four U.N. observers from Austria, Canada, China and Finland.
In other developments, Israeli warplanes and artillery intensified strikes, killing as many as 12 people, officials said. Hizbullah said it launched an assault on troops in a small border village seized by Israeli forces last weekend.
An Israeli airstrike flattened a house in the village of Hadatha, and six people inside were believed dead or wounded, the state news agency reported. Hizbullah's al-Manar TV said all six were dead. Missiles fired by Israeli jets also destroyed three buildings in the village of Kfar Jouz near the market town of Nabatiyeh, killing three and wounding nine people, including four children, Lebanese security officials said. The raid apparently targeted an apartment belonging to a Hizbullah activist.
Three women were killed in strikes on their homes in southern villages of Talouseh, Sheitiyeh and Bazouriyeh, the hometown of Hizbullah leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah, security officials said.
Israeli artillery also fired more than 40 shells at the village of Arnoun just outside Nabatiyeh, next to the strategic Crusader's Beaufort Castle, which has a commanding view of the border area, witnesses said.
Israeli artillery hit a convoy evacuating villagers from southern Lebanon, slightly wounding a journalist and a driver.
A fierce battle between Israeli forces and Hizbullah fighters took place Friday afternoon in the southern Lebanese town of Bint Jbeil. According to Lebanese sources, at least 12 Hizbullah men were killed in the course of fire exchanges. During the fight, Hizbullah used a mortar shell at the Israeli troops. The soldiers were hit and several of them were wounded.
The clashes in "Hizbullah's capital" of southern Lebanon in recent days have claimed a heavy toll: Two days ago nine Israeli soldiers were killed and 22 had been wounded during battles with Hizbullah. The Shiite group published on Friday morning a declaration claiming four of its fighters killed the day before.