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Israel Says It Plans to Allow More Time For Diplomacy

Israeli officials say despite heavy fighting in southern Lebanon they have not committed the bulk of their force to the battle - to give time for diplomatic efforts to bring about a cease-fire. Some of the heaviest fighting of the month-long conflict is now underway.

Israeli ground troops on Thursday say they have largely gained control of the town of Marjayoun, a strategic hilltop location near the Litani river.

Large numbers of Israeli troops are battling Hezbollah militants in southern Lebanon. Hezbollah says it has destroyed a number of Israeli tanks so far.

On Wednesday, Israel's Cabinet authorized the army to push north to the Litani, about 20 kilometers from the border. However Israeli officials like Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni say the bulk of their invasion force has not yet entered Lebanon, saying Israel will give U.N. diplomats a little more time to reach a cease-fire.

Livni says it is important to allow diplomatic efforts to continue as part of the effort to get Hezbollah militants out of southern Lebanon.