Rockets from Lebanon hit Israel amid Gaza offensive
Friday, 09 January 2009

Rockets from Lebanon hit Israel amid Gaza offensiveAllyn Fisher-Ilan

JERUSALEM, Jan 8 ( - At least four rockets fired from Lebanon exploded in northern Israel on Thursday, wounding two people, police and medics said, in an attack likely linked to Israel's offensive in the Gaza Strip and raising fears that the conflict could spill over.

It was not immediately clear whether Lebanon's Hezbollah guerrillas, against whom Israel fought a 2006 war, or Palestinians fired the rockets in an attack that presented a new challenge to Israeli leaders waging a 13-day-old Gaza campaign.

Israeli forces have been on high alert in the north fearing that Hezbollah could send rocket salvoes into northern Israel as they did in the 2006 conflict and lend support to Hamas and the Gaza Strip's 1.5 million inhabitants.

Shi'ite Hezbollah has not opened fire in the 13 days since Israeli forces started bombarding the Gaza Strip to the south of Israel with the declared aim of halting rocket attacks from the Hamas-ruled territory.

Palestinian groups in Lebanon have also been known to fire rockets. The rockets launched on Thursday hit the Israeli resort town of Nahariya and three other locations and officials ordered schools closed and advised residents to stay in shelters.

In June 2007, Palestinians in Lebanon fired two rockets that hit near the Israeli town of Kiryat Shmona.

Israeli warplanes bombed targets across the Gaza Strip on Thursday and tanks advanced on Palestinian guerrillas as U.S. backing for a truce proposal raised expectations of an end to the offensive.

Residents in Gaza described the overnight bombardments to the east of the city as among the heaviest in the offensive. In the south of the territory a phalanx of tanks advanced closer to the town of Khan Younis, witnesses said.

Although Israel pressed on with the offensive, it said it accepted the "principles" of a European-Egyptian ceasefire proposal. The United States urged Israel to study the plan.

"We believe a ceasefire is necessary," said U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.


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