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Hizbollah kills Israeli soldier in clash
Updated: 2005-06-30 08:33

Lebanese Hizbollah guerrillas struck army posts in an Israeli-occupied border area on Wednesday, killing an Israeli soldier in an attack that drew air raids from the Jewish state.

"Following the Hizbollah attack, the air force targeted outposts used by Hizbollah to carry out attacks against Israeli targets," the Israeli army said.

Witnesses said the warplanes bombed the outskirts of two south Lebanese border villages.

It was the most serious incident in the flashpoint Shebaa Farms area since Jan. 9, when a Hizbollah attack and Israeli retaliatory strikes killed an Israeli officer, a French military observer and a Hizbollah guerrilla.

Hizbollah kills Israeli soldier in clash
Smoke raises from outside Kfar Shouba village near the border with Israel in south Lebanon June 29,2005. Israeli warplanes bombed the outskirts of a south Lebanese border village on June 29 after Hizbollah guerrillas attacked Israeli posts in the area.[Reuters]
The Israeli army said one soldier was killed and five troops were wounded in Wednesday's fighting.

"A terrorist squad infiltrated Israeli territory within Har Dov," Major-General Benny Ganz, chief of Israel's Northern Command, told Israel TV.

"We hit the squad and we are continuing our activity in the field. As a result of this event, Hizbollah fired mortar bombs and rockets in the area."

Israeli military officials said they believed Hizbollah, which is backed by Syria and Iran, carried out the attack to flex its muscles after Lebanese elections returned an anti-Syrian majority to parliament for the first time since the 1975-1990 civil war.

Commenting on the violence, State Department spokesman Sean McCormack told reporters: "Based on the information we have now, I would just make clear that in our view Israel has a right to defend itself."

The statement was a slight departure from the State Department's recent practice of urging both sides to exercise restraint.


Black smoke could be seen rising from posts in the hilly border enclave after the guerrillas fired rockets and mortar bombs at three border posts.

"An Israeli infantry force crossed the Blue Line heading toward Lebanese areas when it hit an advanced ambush of the Islamic Resistance," Hizbollah said in a statement.

"Clashes took place with machine guns ... and (Hizbollah) inflicted casualties among the enemy's soldiers."

The U.N.-delineated Blue Line marks Israel's withdrawal from south Lebanon and does not represent a permanent border.

"There was fire across the Blue Line. UNIFIL is in contact with both sides urging maximum restraint," said Milos Strugar, senior adviser to the United Nations observer force in south Lebanon. "We are now in the process of ascertaining the facts."

Hizbollah was instrumental in ending Israel's 22-year occupation of southern Lebanon in 2000. The two foes have clashed sporadically in the Shebaa Farms since.

The United Nations says Israel's withdrawal from Lebanon is complete and the Shebaa Farms is Israeli-occupied Syrian land. Lebanon and Syria say the area is still occupied Lebanese soil.

A U.N. resolution called last year for Syria to withdraw from Lebanon and Hizbollah to disarm. Syrian troops pulled out in April under Lebanese and international pressure but the guerrilla group vowed not to lay down its weapons.

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