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The BBC's Paul Adams
"Israelis are dying too"
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Nick Childs reports
"The border has been relatively quiet since October"
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Sunday, 26 November, 2000, 23:29 GMT
Fighting erupts on Lebanon border
Israel responded with artillery, warplanes and helicopter gunships
Israel responded with artillery, warplanes and gunships
One Israeli soldier was killed and two were wounded when a roadside bomb exploded close to their patrol in the disputed Shebaa Farms area on the Lebanese border early on Sunday.

Israel responded by sending warplanes to attack targets in southern Lebanon near Har Dov and Kfar Shouba villages.

Later on Sunday, Israeli army radio said four Palestinian gunmen had been killed by army snipers in the West Bank.

An Israeli army spokesman said the four were intercepted after they had fired on a car as they left the Palestinian area of Kalkylia, near the town of Habla.

First air raid

Lebanon's Hezbollah issued a statement acknowledging that it carried out the roadside bomb attack.

Israel later said it had lodged a complaint with the UN Security Council against the Lebanese Government over Hezbollah's activities.

We have learned that our occupied lands cannot be returned through peaceful means

Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah
Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak, speaking on public radio, said Israel had to respond with force and intelligence to events on the border.

The Shebaa Farms area has been tense since the abduction of three Israeli soldiers last month.

Foreign Minister Shlomo Ben Ami said the bomb, detonated almost a kilometre south of the Lebanese border, was an "aggressive act" not only by Hezbollah but also by the Lebanese Government.

At least one person was injured on the Lebanese side - a Syrian construction worker who was building a wall outside Kfar Shouba when the Israeli jets appeared.

It was the first Israeli air raid on Lebanon since the May 24 withdrawal of Israeli forces from southern Lebanon after a 22-year occupation.

Israel also launched artillery attacks and sent helicopter gunships to rake the outskirts of Kfar Shouba village with machine-gun fire.

'Holy fighting'

On Saturday, Lebanon's Hezbollah leader, Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah, declared that fighting was the only way to regain the territory, which was captured by Israel from Syria in 1967.

"We have learned that our occupied lands cannot be returned through peaceful means. The lands can (only) be returned through Jihad (holy fighting), martyrdom, blood, sacrifices and bullets," he said.

Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah
The Hezbollah leader is calling for a Jihad
"If we had listened to the advice and preaching of some people, then the south would have still been under the (Israeli) occupation now," he added.

Mr Nasrallah's comments followed remarks by Maronite Christian Patriarch Nasrallah Sfeir on Thursday, in which he urged Lebanon to seek a peaceful solution to its claim to the Shebaa Farms.

Lebanon and Syria say the area is Lebanese and consider Israel's withdrawal from south Lebanon as incomplete.

Israel fought a war of attrition with Hezbollah, the Shi'ite Moslem "Party of God" backed by Syria and Iran, until Israeli forces ended their 22 year occupation of south Lebanon in May.

New talks

The latest clashes came only hours before a meeting between Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and a senior aide to Mr Barak on Sunday.

President Hosni Mubarak
President Mubarak met an aide of Ehud Barak
The talks were the first high-level contact since Egypt recalled its ambassador from Israel last week, and were expected to focus on the issue of ending the violence in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Neither side commented on the outcome of the 45-minute meeting.

In another development, Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat is reported to have held previously unannounced talks on Saturday night with Israeli cabinet minister, Amnon Lipkin-Shahak.

The meeting followed a Russian-mediated telephone conversation between Mr Arafat and Mr Barak on Friday, aimed at quelling two months of unrest in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

The Israeli foreign minister had been due to travel to Moscow on Tuesday to follow up on Mr Arafat's talks there, but he is reported to have postponed the trip because of moves by the right-wing Likud party to bring about early elections.

The party hopes that a bill on early elections will be passed by parliament in its first reading on Tuesday.

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See also:

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