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Israeli Soldier Killed in Hezbollah Attack at Lebanese Border - 2004-01-19

One Israeli soldier was killed and another wounded when Lebanon's Hezbollah guerrilla group destroyed an Israeli military bulldozer Monday.

The Israeli army said the bulldozer was hit by a rocket while it was clearing explosives that had been planted along the Lebanese border. The army says the bulldozer was on the Israeli side of the divide.

But Hezbollah says the bulldozer had crossed into Lebanese territory, "violating" the border. The militant Islamic group claims it got a direct hit on the vehicle.

The chief of Israel's northern command, Major General Benny Gantz, called the incident "very serious" and indicated that retaliation is being considered. He went on to blame Syria for backing Hezbollah.

Earlier, Hezbollah had said it fired on Israeli jets flying over southern Lebanon.

The group said the Israeli planes flew over the middle parts of southern Lebanon, violating Lebanese air space. Residents reported that the planes broke the sound barrier over the port city of Tyre.

Israel has flown regular sorties over Lebanon since withdrawing its troops from the southern part of the country in 2000.

Some information for this report provided by AP and Reuters.