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Rockets Fired from Lebanon Strike Israel Amid Heightened Security for Bush Visit

  • Jim Teeple

Two rockets fired from Lebanese territory struck northern Israel Tuesday, raising tensions before the Mideast visit of President George Bush. VOA's Jim Teeple reports Israeli police say they have mobilized a massive police force for the visit.

The surprise rocket attack is the first in months on Israel's northern border. It was the second such attack since Israel's war in Lebanon in 2006, when thousands of rockets landed in the area. This time, Israeli police spokesman Mickey Rosenfeld says two rockets struck a road in northern Israel and caused no injuries.

"Two rockets were, in fact, fired from Lebanon into northern Israel - both of them striking a road near the northern city of Shlomi," he said. "Our bomb disposal experts arrived at the scene and dealt with the leftovers of those Katyusha rockets."

The rocket attack raised tensions just hours before President Bush is to arrive in Israel and the Palestinian territories for three days of talks with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

Israel has mobilized more than 10,000 police officers for the visit - more than a third of the entire national force. Rosenfeld says the police are prepared.

"As far as the Israeli police are concerned, we are ready for the visit," he said. "We have completed our operations, both on the operational and intelligence level. We have received no specific warnings with Mr. Bush's three-day visit - however we continue to deal with regular general alerts that we deal with all year round."

Mr. Bush and his entourage will stay in Jerusalem's historic King David Hotel, which has been fully taken over by the White House for the visit. Journalists traveling with Mr. Bush will stay at nearby hotels. Major streets in central Jerusalem have been blocked off for the visit. Thousands of protesters - mostly right-wing activists opposed to any dismantling of Israeli settlements - have threatened large demonstrations.

Mr. Bush's trip to the West Bank is under even tighter security wraps, with no itinerary published beyond a general statement saying he will visit the West Bank city, Ramallah, to meet with Mr. Abbas.

Meanwhile, violence continues in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, Tuesday, with clashes reported between Israeli troops and Palestinian militants, including a rare exchange of fire between Israeli navy vessels and Hamas militants along the Gaza shore.