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Katyusha rockets slam Israel as violence in Lebanon heats up

JERUSALEM, July 7 (JTA) — One year after Israel launched an offensive into Lebanon to quell Hezbollah rocket attacks across the border, the missiles are back. A series of Katyusha rockets slammed into northern Israel late Sunday night, following intense fighting between Israeli forces and Hezbollah guerrilla positions in South Lebanon. Israeli sources said no injuries or damages were caused by the rocket attacks. In April 1996, Israel launched a 16-day offensive into Lebanon to stop the Islamic militant group Hezbollah from its rocket attacks on Israeli settlements along the northern border. Under a U.S.-brokered agreement in the wake of the offensive, the sides agreed to keep civilians and civilian areas out of the cycle of violence in South Lebanon. A five-nation committee made up of representatives from the United States, France, Syria, Lebanon and Israel was set up to monitor adherence to the settlement and field complaints. But the committee has not been able to stem the violence, which has escalated in recent weeks. Sunday’s fierce fighting followed a clash in Israel’s security zone during which Hezbollah gunmen opened fire at close range on Israeli paratroopers operating in the area. Maj. Nadav Milo, 24, of Kibbutz Sde Eliyahu, was killed in the fighting. He was laid to rest on Monday. Israeli forces responded with fighter planes and helicopters, which targeted suspected Hezbollah sites. Defense Minister Yitzhak Mordechai said Monday that there is a continuing war in Lebanon, and that the Israeli soldiers stationed there are the only buffer between northern Israeli settlements and Hezbollah attacks.

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