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The BBC's Orla Guerin
"The soldier who died was the third to be killed"
 real 56k

Saturday, 14 April, 2001, 17:04 GMT 18:04 UK
Fighting erupts over Shebaa Farms
Israeli tank fires 155mm shells into southern Lebanon
Israeli tanks have remained on the Lebanese border
Fighting has erupted in southern Lebanon between Israeli forces and the Shi'a Muslim militant group Hezbollah.

An Israeli soldier died when Hezbollah guerrillas hit an Israeli tank with a Saggar missile in the disputed Shebaa Farms area, according to statements reported from both sides.


Israeli combat plans attacked Hezbollah targets due to heavy fire from the targets towards... Israeli territories

Israeli army spokesman
An Israeli army spokesman said the military returned fire after a military base in the area had come under attack.

The farms lie on the border between Lebanon and the Golan Heights which Israel seized from Syria in 1967.

The Lebanese Government and Hezbollah, which is backed by Syria and Iran, both say Israel's withdrawal from southern Lebanon will not be complete until the farms are vacated.

Retaliation

Hezbollah said Israeli troops retaliated by firing mortar shells into the mountains on the Lebanese side of the border opposite Shebaa.

Hezbollah celebrate Israel's withdrawal in May 2000
Hezbollah spearheaded attacks on Israel's occupying forces
Witnesses reported Israeli helicopters and war planes overflying the area, which in part was confirmed in Jerusalem.

"Israeli air force combat plans attacked Hezbollah targets in south Lebanon due to heavy fire from the targets towards the direction of Mount Dov (Shebaa Farms) inside Israeli territories," the Israeli spokesman said.

Witnesses also said about 40 shells were fired at villages facing the Shebaa Farms, with the 155mm shells landing around the villages as well as in nearby woods.

Hezbollah, which played a key role in driving Israeli forces out of southern Lebanon last year after a 22 year occupation, has carried out many attacks on the Shebaa Farms since then.

Israel says the fate of the area should be decided in negotiations with Syria, but there has been little progress on that track.

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See also:

25 May 00 | Middle East
In focus: Shebaa farms
03 Jan 01 | Middle East
Israelis shelled from Lebanon
13 Apr 01 | Middle East
Tensions high for Lebanon anniversary
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