Israel, Hezbollah Say Cease-fire Violated by Other

More than three weeks after a cease-fire halted Israel-Hezbollah cross-border fighting, the two sides have charged each other with violating the accord.

The charges erupted after clashes Sunday in the southern Lebanon security zone that left an Israeli soldier moderately wounded and one Hezbollah member dead.

Israeli artillery later shelled Hezbollah targets in the area of Nabatiya, wounding a Lebanese woman.

The artillery shells reportedly carried no explosives. According to local reports, the civilian was hit by shrapnel.

Hezbollah officials said they viewed the Israeli shelling as a violation of the cease-fire that went into effect April 27. They did not indicate whether they would retaliate with Katyusha rocket attacks on northern Israel.

Syria joined in the charge that Israel had broken the accord.

In Jerusalem, the director general of the Foreign Ministry, Uri Savir, rejected Hezbollah’s charges, telling reporters that the Shi’ite fundamentalists were launching attacks from areas populated by Lebanese civilians.

The cease-fire understanding allowed Israel and Hezbollah to continue fighting within the security zone, but it called on the two sides to stop launching attacks on or from civilian areas in either Israel or Lebanon.

Sunday’s clashes came as representatives of the five-nation group that has responsibility for monitoring the cease-fire continued their effort to agree upon how the group would function.

Following talks last week in Washington, diplomats from Israel, the United States, France, Lebanon and Syria reached a tentative agreement for their activities.

Prime Minister Shimon Peres said this week that under the terms of that agreement, military personnel from the five nations would oversee implementation of the accord and investigate reported violations.

But Peres stressed that Syria military personnel would not be able to enter Israeli territory.

Sunday’s clashes were the latest in a series of exchanges between Hezbollah and the Israel Defense Force in southern Lebanon. Last week, six Israeli soldiers were wounded in the fighting, which reportedly also killed two Hezbollah gunmen.

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