JERUSALEM, Sept. 29 (JTA) – An Israeli soldier was killed Monday during a battle with Hezbollah fighters in southern Lebanon that ended several days of relative quiet. Capt. Gal Levran, 21, of Rishon le-Zion, is the 22nd IDF soldier to be killed in Lebanon in recent weeks. Levran, an intelligence officer, served in the same battalion that lost five of its soldiers when they were trapped in a brush fire following an Aug. 28 battle with members of the Shi’ite Amal movement. A total of 39 IDF Force soldiers have been killed in Lebanon since the start of the year. On Sept. 5, 12 Israeli naval commandos were killed in a raid on Lebanon, in what was the IDF’s heaviest casualty count in more than 12 years in a single military operation. The recent rise in the number of fatalities has renewed debate in Israel over the army’s presence in the security zone. Defenders of the Israeli prsence in Lebanon say it is necessary to protect Israel’s northern settlements until a political agreement is reached. Critics of the policy have argued that it only leads to more casualties.
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