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Hezbollah Kills 2 Israeli Soldiers Near Lebanese Border - 2004-07-20

Hezbollah snipers in southern Lebanon killed two Israelis soldiers at a military post along the border. Israel responded by firing into Lebanon at suspected Hezbollah bases and one Hezbollah fighter was reported killed.

The Israeli army confirmed that the Hezbollah had killed the two soldiers, one of them an officer. The army said the two soldiers were fixing an antenna at their military base, when they were spotted by the Hezbollah snipers, who opened fire on them.

They said Israeli military helicopters and tanks returned fire, hitting at least one Hezbollah position, from which the sniper fire was initiated.

Hezbollah then fired anti-aircraft shells into Israeli territory, causing some damage to property but no injuries.

The fighting follows a bombing that killed a veteran Hezbollah commander Monday in the Lebanese capital, Beirut. Hezbollah leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah blamed Israel and vowed to launch revenge attacks. The Israeli Army denies involvement in the assassination.

The violence between Israel and the Hezbollah is the most serious in recent months. The Israel-Lebanon border has remained relatively quiet since Israel withdrew its troops from southern Lebanon in May, 2000, ending an 18-year occupation of the area.

Since then there have been sporadic clashes in which some Israeli solders and Hezbollah fighters have been killed, but the violence has not escalated into any major military confrontation. The total number of Israeli soldiers killed in such fighting has risen to 13.