Wed, Feb 07, 2007 - Page 1 News List

Israel blames Hezbollah after finding bombs at border

AP , JERUSALEM

The Israeli army said it uncovered four bombs on the Israeli side of the border with Lebanon and accused Hezbollah guerrillas of planting the explosives in recent days.

If confirmed, the discovery announced on Monday would mark a violation of a UN-brokered ceasefire by Hezbollah and indicate a failure by international peacekeepers to prevent new attacks on Israel. Both Hezbollah and UN officials said they were looking into the report.

Israeli Defense Minister Amir Peretz instructed his office to convey an "urgent message" to the UN peacekeepers in Lebanon following the "severe incident," the defense ministry said in a statement.

Lieutenant-Colonel Guy Hazoot, the operations officer of Israel's northern division, said an Israeli patrol on Monday discovered and detonated all the explosives, which were hidden in containers that looked like boulders. He said the explosives were designed to target Israeli military patrols on the border and had the potential to kill.

Hazoot said the bombs had been planted as recently as Sunday night, under the cover of stormy weather, but gave no evidence to back the allegation. The military conducts routine patrols in the area.

Israel and Hezbollah battled a bloody 34-day war last summer, with Israeli border towns pummeled with thousands of rockets.

Under the ceasefire, thousands of international peacekeepers, along with Lebanese government troops, police the border to ensure quiet. The deal bars Hezbollah from carrying arms in the border area.

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