Military says rockets fired from Lebanon struck northern Israel

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

JERUSALEM -- Two rockets fired from Lebanon struck northern Israel overnight, the military said Tuesday, expanding the violence that has erupted on Israel's other borders ahead of President Bush's visit to the region. No injuries were reported.

It was the second rocket attack on Israel from Lebanon since Israel's summer 2006 war with Lebanese Hezbollah guerrillas. In June, two rockets fired by a previously unknown group, the Jihadi Badr Brigades -- Lebanon Branch, fell in Israel, causing minor damage but no injuries.

Israeli military officials said it appeared the same group was behind Tuesday's attack, although there was no claim of responsibility.

A senior military officer in Beirut said the Israeli report was "baseless and completely fabricated." He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the incident with the media.

Yasmina Bouziane, a spokeswoman for U.N. peacekeepers in Lebanon, said the force had a team on the ground looking into the report. "In the meantime, we can't confirm or deny" the Israeli claims, she said.

A resident of the northern Israeli town of Shlomi, Simona Salamon, said a rocket hit her porch in the middle of the night. "It was such a big noise and my ears were ringing," Salamon told Army Radio. "It made a hole in the wall."

During the 2006 war, Lebanese Hezbollah guerrillas bombarded northern Israel with nearly 4,000 rockets. Forty Israeli civilians were killed, along with 119 Israeli soldiers. More than 1,000 Lebanese -- most of them civilians-- were killed in Israeli bombardments.

Shlomi Mayor Gabi Naaman told Army Radio that three rockets landed in the community around 2 a.m.

The rocket fire from Lebanon comes on the heels of Israeli clashes with Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and West Bank.

Israeli troops carried out an incursion in central Gaza after militants fired a rocket Thursday that struck deep into southern Israel. They also conducted a four-day raid in the West Bank town of Nablus, uncovering a weapons laboratory and other munitions and arresting 20 wanted men.

The tensions on Israel's northern and southern borders threatened to cast a pall over Bush's three-day visit to Israel and the West Bank, which begins today.

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